Labour Studies Index

Updated: 2022-05-16

Social Experiments and Social Policy Formulation: A Study of the Manitoba Basic Annual Income Experiment

Document type Thesis
Author Farthing, Gerald Brian
Degree Ph.D., Economics and Political Science
Publisher London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London); London, UK
Date 1992
Pages 296 pages


In 1973 the Government of Canada and the ten provinces agreed to undertake jointly a complete review of Canada's social security system. The review and development of policy options was scheduled to be completed by 1975 with the implementation of chosen options to take a further two or three years. A prominent and much debated policy option with respect to income security was a guaranteed annual income. In 1974 the Government of Canada and the Province of Manitoba agreed jointly to undertake a guaranteed annual income experiment called the Manitoba Basic Annual Income Experiment. The primary research purpose of the experiment was to provide information respecting the labour supply response of the recipients of a system of guaranteed annual income payments. The experiment officially ended in March, 1979, but did not report on the labour supply response. This study examines the history and fate of the Manitoba Basic Annual Income Experiment. Two major conclusions are drawn. The first conclusion is that the Government of Canada had decided shortly after the experiment had begun that it would not support a one-tiered guaranteed annual income program such as was being tested by the experiment. The second conclusion is that social policy research that requires the use of rigorous and complex social science methodology should be considered an important part of the normal policy-making process, but should be conducted by a research body that is independent of the initiating government(s).