Universal Basic Income COVID-19 Digest

The current COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted gaping holes in safety nets globally, leaving vulnerable and marginalized populations worse off, and those who were once secure on the verge of falling into poverty. During past economic shocks, governments have scaled up existing cash transfer programs and implemented new support programs to buffer the social and economic impact for individuals and households. Similarly, during this current shock, governments are doing the same, though with increasing calls for the implementation of a basic income-like policy.

As part of the Basic Income Lab’s mission to convene key stakeholders and members of the community around the politics, philosophy and economics of universal basic income, the Lab has put together a “living” digest of tools, research and events from partners, research institutions and think tanks on basic income during this global pandemic. We encourage you to explore the tools.

Should you find something missing or if you would like the Lab to highlight something, we encourage you to email us at basicincomelab@stanford.edu.

Policy Tools

How are past policy responses to global crises informing the creation of new policies in response to COVID-19? Are the new policies adequate? How are governments across the globe responding to the ever-changing current financial, social and health crises? The policy tools included in this section address some of these questions through 'living papers' on what the social protection responses have been around the world, a set of indicators to measure government responses, and a global repository of policy responses to address COVID-19, among others.


PoliMap: A global repository of policy responses to tackle COVID-19

Timeline of county-level responses, including social and economic interventions to mitigate the negative consequences of virus suppression measures

First Policy Response: Canada’s policy community response to COVID-19

A curated summary of articles, opinion pieces, papers and Twitter threads

Social Protection and Jobs Response to COVID-19: A Real-Time Review of Country Measures

‘Living paper’ updated weekly of country-level social protection responses to COVID, including: cash transfers, universal one-off cash, childcare support, cash for work, social pensions, in-kind vouchers, school feeding, and utility and financial obligation support.



This section includes analysis and research from policymakers, practitioners, researchers and research institutions on the use of basic income-like policies as a response to COVID-19.


How Social Service Agencies Can Leverage Behavioral Science as Services Go Virtual

Matthew Gerken of the Urban Institute on Poverty, Vulnerability and the Safety Net

The Social Challenges in Times of COVID-19

Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) Proposes Moving Towards a Basic Income to Help the Most Vulnerable Population Overcome the Coronavirus’s Effects

Could Covid-19 be the push that Europe needs for unconditional basic income?

Genevieve Shanahan and Mark Smith, Grenoble École de Management (GEM)


Upcoming Events

This section highlights upcoming events as they relate to on basic income or related policies during this pandemic. All upcoming events are hosted by partners of the Basic Income Lab, research institutions, policy think tanks or foundations.


Emergency Savings – Are we Re-Learning Lessons or Have we Reached its Limits?

June 11, 2020

10am EST. Aspen Institute, Financial Security Program


Past Events

This section provides links to past events on the intersection of basic income or related policies and COVID-19. All past events are hosted by partners of the Basic Income Lab, research institutions, policy think tanks or foundations.


Linking Social Protection and humanitarian cash and voucher assistance (CVA) – what do we really know and where to start? Findings from the CaLP commissioned high level briefing paper at the time of COVID-19

May 21, 2020

8am EST. Host: socialprotection.org; Panelists: Paul Harvey, Humanitarian Outcomes, Daniel Longhurst, Independent Consultant, Dr. Rachel Slater, Professor of International Development, Centre for International Development and Training, University of Wolverhampton

Lift the floor: Would a Universal Basic Income guarantee a good life for all Canadians

May 14, 2020

1pm EST. Host: Broadbent Institute, Panelists: Armine Yalnizyan, Economist and Atkinson Fellow on the Future of Workers and Simon Black, Brock University Centre for Labour Studies

Cash Infusions: Stability Now, Security Later

May 14, 2020

1pm EST. Host: Aspen Institute, Financial Security Program, Panelists: Charlie Anderson of the office of Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO); Mia Birdsong, Economic Security Project; Aisha Nyandoro, Springboard To Opportunities; Ameya Pawar, Former Chicago Aldermanl Prashanthi Ravanavarapu, PayPal; Lauren Renaud, FII; and Helah Robinson, LIFT