A temporary basic income for the world’s poorest 2.7 billion people in 132 developing countries could help slow the spread of the coronavirus by allowing them to stay home, according to a U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) report released on Thursday.
The report suggests three options – top-ups on existing average incomes, lump-sum transfers linked to differences in the median standard of living across a country or uniform lump sum transfers regardless of where someone lives in a country.
“Unprecedented times call for unprecedented social and economic measures. Introducing a temporary basic income for the world’s poorest people has emerged as one option,” said UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner. “Bailouts and recovery plans cannot only focus on big markets and big business.”
The coronavirus has infected at least 14.8 million people and there have been more than 610,000 known deaths worldwide, according to a Reuters tally. The United Nations has warned that the pandemic and associated global recession could trigger an increase in poverty worldwide for the first time since 1990 and push 265 million people to the brink of starvation.