Political philosopher and economist Karl Widerquist remembers a poll from 10 years ago that showed just 12 percent of Americans approved of a universal basic income.
That's changed — and quickly. Today, 48 percent of Americans support it, according to a recent Northeastern University/Gallup survey of more than 3,000 U.S. adults.
The survey looked at universal basic income as a solution for Americans who have lost jobs to automation.
"It represents an enormous increase in support," said Widerquist, an associate professor at Georgetown University in Qatar and an advocate for a universal basic income. "It's really promising."
Proposals for universal basic income programs vary, but the most common one is a system in which the federal government sends out regular checks to everyone, regardless of their earnings or employment.
Pilots programs are underway in Canada and rural Kenya. India — with a population of more than 1.3 billion residents — is considering establishing a universal basic income as well. Finland's trial with a universal basic income, in which payments were given to 2,000 unemployed people, will come to an end this year.
Other experiments are still ongoing.