CSULB to gauge economic, social impacts of Guaranteed Basic Income pilot in Long Beach

Published August 16, 2021

CSULB’s Office of Economic Research (OER) has been tapped to explore the economic and social impacts of the City of Long Beach’s Guaranteed Basic Income (GBI) program, a high-profile pilot set to roll out in Fall 2021. 

The program will provide $500 per month to 500 Long Beach households for one year. Long Beach is one of the first cities in the nation to explore GBI as a policy solution for struggling communities, and Mayor Robert Garcia ’01, a member of the Mayors for a Guaranteed Income organization, is a vocal proponent. 

“There is a lot of heat on Guaranteed Basic Income lately,” said CSULB Economics Chair Seiji Steimetz. “It’s a kind of social safety net which targets those living in poverty with the most need.” 

The OER provided initial research to determine that single-parent households in Long Beach’s 90813 ZIP code, an area with the lowest median household income in the city, would most benefit from the pilot.  

“We need to look at the effect this income has on the families,” Steimetz said. “Are they more able to cover basic expenses and emergency needs? Are the adults more able to seek an education, or gain full-time employment? If a single parent wants to become a certified nursing assistant, GBI may allow them to take fewer shifts at the grocery store so they can pursue their education.” 

Steimetz, OER Associate Director Robert Kleinhenz, and a growing team of student research assistants will study economic impacts and social mobility outcomes for the participating families. Sociology Chair Kris Zentgraf is developing a team to study social metrics – how the additional income affects recipients’ stress levels and overall wellbeing.   

Kris Zentgraf, Sociology Chair
Dr. Kristine Zentgraf, Sociology Professor & Department Chair

“These are areas economists aren’t qualified to study, but CSULB has very qualified sociologists,” Steimetz said. “Single-parent households were among the hardest hit by the pandemic, and COVID relief funding helped enable this GBI package. Our task is to guide policymakers with data and insights to show how this income may change the lives of families in need, both in terms of economic and mental health.” 

The pilot is the latest collaboration between the city and the OER, which has provided analysis for economic policy to the city’s Economic Development department for many years. Economic Development Director John Keisler explained that the partnership is “critical for design, development, implementation and measurement of program results.” 

The city will begin accepting participant applications in Fall 2021, and the study will begin in Spring 2022. Funding from the city will support CSULB’s student research team, but the pilot is also an opportunity for investment for local business leaders.  

“We want to devote as much as possible to helping families,” Steimetz said. “This is a very good opportunity for industry leaders to do good in the community while supporting students to analyze data, develop policy, and affect real world change.”