First look at Finland's basic income trial: no major changes

  • First look at Finland's basic income trial: no major changes

First look at Finland's basic income trial: no major changes

Kela, in conjunction with the Finnish Centre for Economic Research and other partners including the universities of Turku and Helsinki, began a two-year experiment in January 2017 where 2,000 randomly-selected unemployed people were given a monthly basic income of €560 (£490/$634) regardless of any other income they may have or if they were actively seeking employment.

Taking a different tack, it imposed new sanctions past year for the unemployed who failed or opted not to accept work while receiving benefits. That could help reduce dependence on the state and cut welfare costs, especially as greater automation sees humans replaced in the workforce.

But participants in the trial were happier and healthier than the control group.

"The basic income experiment is important and can tell us a lot about how unemployed people behave when they are given more freedom in the labor market", said Heidi Schauman, chief economist at Aktia Bank Oyj.

As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. It can also encourage people to try a new job without the fear of losing their unemployment checks or having to go through the paperwork of reapplying for benefits.

Sini Marttinen, 36, had been unemployed for almost a year before "winning the lottery", as she described the trial.

Ms Sini Marttinen, 36, said knowing her basic income was guaranteed had given her enough confidence to open a restaurant with two friends during the trial period. After the tax, employment may give only a marginal increase in the monthly income, while free time is lost.

Compared to 46% of the control group, 55% of those receiving basic income described their health as "good" or "very good". The Finnish trial was a bit different, as it focused on people who were unemployed.


"Even though the basic income model developed for the experiment is not likely to be adopted as such for more extensive use, I think the experiment was very successful", Mattila said in a statement.

The Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has claimed that a basic income programme in Finland would not be economically viable and could leave significant numbers of people in worse poverty than now.

The researchers have acknowledged that the Finnish pilot was less than realistic because it did not include any tax claw-back once participants found work and reached a certain income level.

In 2017, Swiss voters rejected a proposed universal income in a referendum after critics slammed the idea as rewarding the lazy and the feckless.

Kela said participants -at the half-way mark in the two-year study - had reported improved well-being, including fewer stress symptoms, fewer health problems and less difficulty in concentrating mentall.

He said the end of the two-year trial, during which he published two books, had made it hard again for him to accept commissions, because "I. can earn only 300 euros per month without losing any benefits".

The Finnish report was unveiled just a day after a group of Democrat lawmakers in the U.S. put forth, advocating for government-guaranteed "economic security" for all who are "unable or unwilling to work", among other things.