The Town Without Poverty

A guest post from Richard Pereira, a recent winner of the PEF Essay Contest…

Canadian Economics Association – The Town Without Poverty

There were hundreds of speakers at this year’s CEA conference in Ottawa.  About a dozen of these were designated “Special Lectures/Conférences spéciales” and among them were Jack Mintz on “The GST After Twenty Years”, Don Drummond on productivity and Evelyn Forget on “The Town With No Poverty:  the health effects of the MINCOME guaranteed annual income experiment.”

The PEF also organized many compelling sessions at the CEA conference and a successful inaugural summer school.

The health and education outcomes uncovered from the MINCOME GAI experiment are just two of many aspects that make Dr. Forget’s research and lecture “special”.  This was Canada’s largest social science experiment of the time and it left behind 1,800 boxes of largely unanalysed data that were lost for decades, but which a team of researchers are working through now.  Embedded sociologists and anthropologists in the experiment towns, the efforts to access the boxes of data that were collecting dust and many other features of this research make it an engaging research sleuth story.

Graphs illustrating significant drops in hospitalization rates, increases in educational performance such as high school completion rates and other positive outcomes during the MINCOME experiment (and a return to the status quo after the experiment ended) were presented while describing an impressive research methodology.

Layers of expensive and duplicated bureaucracy could be eliminated or streamlined with a GAI, while providing superior health, education and other social and quality of life outcomes.  Dr. Forget’s research found health costs and impacts reduced particularly in the areas of mental illness and accidents and injuries with the introduction of MINCOME.

Some more background on her groundbreaking research can be found here: (Research Profile – Life in a Town Without Poverty).

UPDATE (15 May 2012): Please see Gilles Seguin’s comments below with better URLs.



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