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New research will assess the impact of Universal Basic Income on young people’s health

Posted on 9 August 2021

With current 14 to 24 year old's possibly the most vulnerable to mental health issues since WWII, York researchers will explore new ways to support their wellbeing.

In collaboration with the Universities of Lancaster and Newcastle, the University of York will model the impact of Universal Basic Income (UBI) schemes on mental 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, funded by the health research charity the Wellcome Trust, will model the impact of UBI to predict its impact on anxiety and depression among 14 to 24-year olds. 

Project collaborator Professor Kate Pickett, from our Department of Health Sciences, said: “As we think about the post-pandemic future we need to test out new ideas about how to support young people's mental wellbeing while they navigate an increasingly challenging transition into adulthood. With this funding, we can model the potential for a bold new policy idea that could have a significant long-term pay-off.”

The multidisciplinary team, which is led by Professor Matthew Johnson from Lancaster University and includes 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 the impact on anxiety and depression by HealthLumen, which specialises 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, which has a track record of driving forward the debate on UBI. 

Vitally, the project, which starts this month, will also for the first time establish universal research protocols for accurate measurement of health impact during trials of UBI.