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The concept of a universal basic income to offset income lost to automation is gaining increasing support among politicians and business leaders. Opponents, however, fear that that the scheme is not financially feasible and would discourage people from working. But how to tell who’s right without trying it out? In 2017, the Canadian town of Lindsay launched a limited basic income pilot project to do just that. Regardless of where you stand in the debate, you will find Brian Bergstein’s balanced preliminary assessment of the project illuminating.

About the Author

Brian Bergstein is a contributing editor at MIT Technology Review.



[Editor’s note: Effective March 31, 2019, the Government of Ontario will end the pilot project two years early, citing costs. A legal challenge by a group of stipend recipients has been rejected by the courts.]

The Canadian town of Lindsay is conducting one of the world’s largest basic income pilot programs.

Lindsay, a small town northeast of Toronto, Canada, is conducting a three-year trial to assess the feasibility of a basic income scheme. As part of the trial, the provincial government is distributing a monthly stipend to 4,000 Lindsay residents, about 10 percent of the town’s total population. Recipients are free to spend the stipend, which...

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