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Can universal basic income reduce poverty and improve children’s health?
  1. Reinhard Huss
  1. UBI Lab Leeds, UBI Lab Network, BIEN, UBI Europe, Dr Reinhard Huss, Leeds, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Reinhard Huss, Dr Reinhard Huss, Leeds LS8 4EX, UK; r.huss{at}

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Recently, the Marmot report on health equity raised the alarm on the high and rising level of child poverty in the UK leading to adverse childhood experiences and deteriorating health outcomes. A basic income (BI) given to every person may reverse this trend of increasing poverty and ill-health. In 1797, Thomas Paine proposed a BI in agrarian justice as compensation for landed property, because the land generates income only for the few owners and deprives all other people of their natural common inheritance. Almost 200 years later, Evelyn Forget analysed a first BI-like intervention in the small Canadian town Dauphin, which showed a reduction in mental health problems, accidents and injuries. This article will explain the concepts of health, poverty and BI, how BI can improve health and present evidence for its effects on child poverty and health.

The WHO has defined health as a ‘state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’. Social health means social inclusion and confidence to participate in social activities. It is not explored in most BI studies. A Finnish BI study with long-term unemployed found improved mental health and increased trust in people and societal institutions. The latter two can be interpreted as improved social health.

The International Poverty Centre has described three types of poverty: income poverty, want of essential goods and services and multidimensional poverty. BI studies focus on income poverty.

Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN) defines BI as a ‘periodic cash payment unconditionally delivered to all on …

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  • Funding The author has not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests I am a member of the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN), the UBI Lab Network, UBI Europe and I am the coordinator of the UBI Lab Leeds. I have no other competing interests.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.