A variety of potential income-support policies could save thousands of American lives each, according to a new study published in the journal JAMA Health Forum.
Researchers at the University of Michigan School of Public Health and the University of California system modeled out the potential effects of four different income-support policies: a universal basic income of $12,000 a year; a negative income tax that guarantees an income of 133% of the federal poverty level; a modified version of the LIFT Act, proposed by Vice President Kamala Harris while she was in the Senate, that would provide $6,000 to individuals with annual household income below $100,000; and a more targeted income guarantee of at least 100% of the federal poverty level for one person.
They found that each of the four hypothetical policies could avert thousands of deaths, with universal basic income saving between 42,000 and 104,000 lives of working-age adults a year, followed by the negative income tax (19,000 to -67,000 lives). The modified LIFT Act would avert 17,000 to 52,000 deaths, they estimate, while the most targeted poverty-fighting approach would prevent 12,000 to 32,000 deaths among the lowest-income, working-age adults.
“Despite decades of research that has demonstrated that income is an important determinant of health, discourse around income support policies has disproportionately emphasized their economic benefits and costs, with little to no focus on the health benefits that these interventions might provide,” the researchers conclude.