Lancaster University: New research will assess impact of UBI on 14 to 24s’ mental health

Now a research team, led by Lancaster University working with Newcastle University and the University of York, and funded by health research charity the Wellcome Trust, will model the impact of Universal Basic Income (UBI) schemes on health.

UBI is a system of regular, secure, unconditional cash transfers to all citizens. The team’s model of impact suggests that UBI can promote health by reducing poverty, mitigating stress associated with inequality and changing behaviour to promote longer-term interests.

For the first time, the project, which starts this month, will model the impact of UBI to predict its impact on anxiety and depression among 14 to 24-year olds.

Leading the research team Professor Matthew Johnson, a senior lecturer in politics at Lancaster University, said: “While UBI has been promoted for various reasons across the political spectrum, debate on the topic has reached a relative impasse in the absence of representative, accurately measured trials in industrialised countries.

“However, evidence that UBI has the potential to promote the health of large parts of society can shift debate, particularly at a time of pandemic.

“Given that the UK Government is committed to a prevention agenda, this project provides valuable evidence on the public health impact by which to make the case for pilot schemes.”

The multidisciplinary team, which includes leading epidemiologist Professor Kate E. Pickett from the University of York, and leading behavioural scientist Professor Daniel Nettle, from Newcastle University, will be working with the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) and campaigning organisation Compass to engage with young people from Bradford via the ActEarly project and a range of disability rights bodies to design UBI schemes.

These schemes will then be used to predict impact on anxiety and depression by HealthLumen, who specialise in simulating the health and economic impact of proposed interventions before real-world implementation.

The findings will be communicated to key policy makers through an end of project report, which will be published by the RSA, who have a track record of driving forward debate on UBI.

Vitally, the project will also, for the first time, establish universal research protocols for accurate measurement of health impact during trails of UBI.

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