Comprehensive survey of cash transfer recipients shows strong, positive attitudes toward nation’s most established unconditional cash transfer program.
JUNEAU — Alaskans across the state believe that the Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) – the nation’s largest unconditional cash transfer program – contributes positively to their overall quality of life, according to results released today from the most comprehensive survey on the PFD in decades. Fully 79 percent of Alaskans say the PFD is an important source of income for people in their community, with 85 percent saying it helps the Alaskan economy and 81 percent saying it improves their quality of life.
People use their payments productively: 72% of Alaskans report saving their PFD for essentials, emergencies, paying off debt, or for future activities like retirement or education. When they spend their PFD, it is heavily devoted to recurring expenses, like paying off bills. Fully 81% say that the PFDs helped improve their quality of life (versus just 1% harmed)
Voters endorse the value of universality: 90% favor the PFDs going to everyone who is a full-time resident of Alaska, and 84% believe as owners of the Alaska Permanent Fund, Alaskan residents are entitled to an equal share
There’s no change in work output: Contrary to belief that cash transfers disincentivize work, just 1 percent of Alaskans believe that the PFD makes them work less
Alaskans are willing to pay for it: 64 percent of respondents said they would rather raise state income taxes than end the PFD to fund government services, up from 29 percent in 1984
“Much of the debate around universal basic income has focused on how people would use the payments, whether it would reduce incentives to work, and how society would bear the cost of paying for it,” said Mike Kubzansky, partner at Omidyar Network, one of the funders of the Economic Security Project. “We still need more evidence to better inform the debate, but a lot can be learned from a real-world example of a long-running basic income program such as the Permanent Fund in Alaska.”