California Wants To Copy Alaska And Pay People A ‘Data Dividend.’ Is It Realistic?

California governor Gavin Newsom’s proposal that big tech companies pay a dividend to residents is the latest attempt to address a widening income gap in the state that boasts the most billionaires. Details on how it would work were few—particularly how it would replicate the most successful state dividend, Alaska’s.

“In Alaska, everybody gets the same amount, because the idea is that it’s a natural resource that belongs equally to all Alaskans,” says Ioana Elena Marinescu, an economics professor from the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice, who led a February 2018 academic study of the Alaska Permanent Fund. “But with data, the question becomes: ‘Is my data more valuable than your data? If it is, how much more and how much should each person be getting?’ It’s a hard question to solve.”