When Y Combinator set up a project to study universal basic income and hired Elizabeth Rhodes to run it, a lot of people in Silicon Valley started paying attention. I’m super eager to hear the quintessential Silicon Valley take on UBI—driven by data and experiments, not political action—and how it comes together with the labor activism of folks like Andy Stern.
— Tim O’Reilly
The motivation behind the project is to begin exploring alternatives to the existing social safety net. If technology eliminates jobs or jobs continue to become less secure, an increasing number of people will be unable to make ends meet with earnings from employment. Basic income is one way to ensure that people are able to meet their basic needs. We’re not sure how it would work or if it’s the best solution, which is why we want to conduct this study.
Our current approach and policies aimed at reducing poverty are not working, and transformative policy changes will never be possible unless researchers introduce alternatives and disseminate evidence that such alternatives are better than the status quo.
Elizabeth Rhodes is the research director for the Basic Income Project at Y Combinator Research. Elizabeth recently completed a joint PhD in social work and political science at the University of Michigan, where her research focused on health and education provision in informal settlements in Nairobi, workforce development, and antipoverty strategies. Elizabeth also holds an MSW from Michigan and a BA in government and economics from Georgetown.
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