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Evaluating the Basic Income Using an Experiment
A paper presented by Gregory Mason, Department of Economics, University of Manitoba
The basic income experiments of the seventies and the recent termination of the Ontario Basic Income Pilot (OBIP) offer important lessons for the design and conduct of large-scale social experiments. Much is at stake, since the projected cost for implementing a basic income in Canada is $79 billion over 2018-23. A high-quality policy experiment promises to test the validity of the expected consequences and map unintended consequences. Yet attempts to test policy using experiments ex ante have failed. The core message of this paper is that for social experiments, it is far better to collect high quality data where simple statistics reveal causal relationships than to create complicated designs that result in heterogenous datasets requiring complex statistics to identify causal inference. The paper presents an experimental design intended to test the main behavioural hypotheses believed to be associated with a basic income.