Japanese fashion billionaire Yusaku Maezawa wants to find out if money really can buy happiness. And he's doing it by giving a $9 million chunk of his fortune away to 1,000 of his followers on Twitter as a "social experiment" to see if a one-time payment of a little over $9,000 will make them significantly happier. He'll do it by way of a series of surveys taken after he distributes the money.
If this sounds like the kind of experiment you'd like to be a subject in, unfortunately it's too late for you to get in on the action, since the recipients are being randomly selected from those that retweeted a post Maezawa made on January 1st. In a YouTube video about the plan, Maezawa called it "a serious social experiment" and linked it to the concept of universal basic income, in which citizens are paid a given amount on a regular basis, and which is gaining in popularity among certain politicians as well as billionaires like Maezawa. He also said that he hopes to get the attention of those in both the academic and economic worlds, in order to shed more light on UBI's potential as a widespread policy.
And in fact, his experiment has already gotten the attention of Toshihiro Nagahama, a senior economist with the Dai-ichi Life Research Institute. He tells Yahoo Finance that whatever the results of Maezawa's experiment, it's different from a true universal basic income:
"Basic means a regular minimum amount offering a sense of security, what Maezawa is offering is totally different."
In any case, this is actually the second time Maezawa has attempted such an experiment. Last year, he gave away 100 million Japanese yen (about $923,000 US) to 100 randomly selected recipients. But this second round of giveaways is obviously on a much larger scale, and in a recent follow-up tweet, Maezaway expressed an interest in repeating it again:
Are there any groups or people, not just in Japan but anywhere in the world, who would like to try a similar experiment within their communities/region? Who would like to try and change their society too?
— Yusaku Maezawa (MZ) 前澤友作 (@yousuck2020) January 10, 2020
The lucky winners of this giveaway are supposed to be alerted via Twitter soon. Then, we'll eventually be able to see how much happier the money makes them.