Financial and Monetary Systems

A universal basic income experiment could be coming to Chicago 

A general view of the city of Chicago, March 23, 2014.  REUTERS/Jim Young (UNITED STATES - Tags: CITYSCAPE SOCIETY)

Chicago would be the largest US city to trial a universal basic income. Image: REUTERS/Jim Young

Sinéad Baker
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on Financial and Monetary Systems?
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how Financial and Monetary Systems is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:

Financial and Monetary Systems

Chicago could become the largest city in US to test a universal basic income programme, if its local government takes up a new proposal to start handing out $500 a month to some households for free.

City lawmakers have voiced support for legislation that would trial a basic income scheme for 1,000 families in Chicago.

A bill, proposed by Chicago lawmaker Ameya Pawar, has started the legislative process by gaining support from 36 of the city's 50 alderman, who vote on local laws.


Pawar spoke about his plan with news website The Intercept, where he said that he was proposing the scheme in light of the threat of automation to the workforce, and to provide a lifeline to the majority of US families he said have very little money in the bank for emergencies.

The legislation will now be debated by aldermen on the city's Committee on Workforce Development and Audit.

If enough members are in favour of the plan, it will then be put before the City Council for a vote.

Chicago law means the mayor could then veto the proposal if he doesn't approve, but that in turn can be over-ruled by a two-thirds majority in the council.

Pawar told the Intercept he is hopeful that the council and mayor will support it, but it's not yet clear what the level of support will be.

A universal basic income scheme is already in place in Alaska, where up to $2,000 is given to a citizen a year from a state fund. Other parts of the US are also looking to trial a universal basic income, with an 18-month trial to begin for 100 families in Stockton, California in 2019.

Image: The Economist

Finland began a universal basic income trial at the beginning of 2017 that gave 2,000 unemployed Finns €560 a month, tax free. There was a plan to expand it to cover working people as well, but the scheme was pulled in favour of other social welfare projects.

Have you read?
Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

World Bank: faster growth is needed to avoid debt restructuring in emerging economies

Karin Strohecker, Jorgelina Do Rosario and Libby George

February 26, 2024

About Us



Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum