Quantifying the mental health and economic impacts of prospective Universal Basic Income schemes among young people in the UK: a microsimulation modelling study

Tao Chen, Howard Reed, Fiorella Parra Mujica, Elliott Aidan Johnson, Matthew T Johnson, Martin O'Flaherty, Brendan Collins, Christodoulos Kypridemos*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Universal Basic Income(UBI) – a largely unconditional, regular payment to all adults to support basic needs – has been proposed as a policy to increase the size and security of household incomes and promote mental health. We aimed to quantify its long-term impact on mental health among young people in England.

We produced a discrete-time dynamic stochastic microsimulation that models a close-to-reality open cohort of synthetic individuals (2010-2030) based on data from Office for National Statistics and Understanding Society. Three UBI scheme scenarios were simulated: Scheme 1 – Starter (per week): £41 per child; £63 per adult over 18 and under 65; £190 per adult aged 65+; Scheme 2 – Intermediate (per week): £63 per child; £145 per adult under 65; £190 per adult aged 65+; Scheme 3 – Minimum Income Standard level (per week): £95 per child; £230 per adult under 65; £230 per adult aged 65+. We reported cases of anxiety and depression prevented or postponed and cost savings. Estimates are rounded to the 2nd significant digit.

Scheme 1 could prevent or postpone 200,000(95% uncertainty interval: 180,000 - 210,000) cases of anxiety and depression from 2010-2030. This would increase to 420,000(400,000 - 440,000) for Scheme 2 and 550,000(520,000 - 570,000) for Scheme 3. Assuming that 50% of cases are diagnosed and treated, Scheme 1 could save £330m(£280m - £390m) to NHS and personal social services (PSS), over the same period, with Scheme 2(£710 million[£640m - £790m]) or Scheme 3(£930 million[£850m - £1000m]) producing more considerable savings. Overall, total cost savings (including NHS, PSS and patients’ related costs) would range from £1.5 billion (£1.2b - £1.8b) for Scheme 1 to £4.2 billion (£3.7b - £4.6b) for Scheme 3.

Our modelling suggests that UBI could substantially benefit young people’s mental health, producing substantial health-related cost savings.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBMJ Open
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 14 Sep 2023

Cite this