I made this basic income calculator this weekend. I impulsively tweeted it out the other day, without explaining what it actually is.

A basic income refers to a per capita grant of income to each individual. So a basic income of $1000 (within my calculator) means every single person receives the $1000, including kids. The basic incomes of dependent children would presumably flow to their parents.

The numbers on the calculator are all from 2012 and are calculated thusly. Total Cost is just the basic income dollar amount multiplied by population. Percent of GDP is just the total cost as a percent of the GDP. The number of people in poverty is calculated from the Census data just released for 2012. I go through each poverty family in the sample, and I add on to their income the basic income times the number of people in the family. If the end amount is still less than the poverty line at a given basic income level, they will show up in the In Poverty number. This means that figure is sensitive to all of the things that go into a particular family’s poverty threshold (size, age, number of kids). The poverty rate is just the number of impoverished people divided by population.

So the real work that went into it was the poverty estimate. I model each $10 increment by actually applying those $10 to every Census poverty family, which took some actual coding work. The rest was basically just basic spreadsheet functions.