Happier? Initial results from Finland’s experiment with basic income come in

Global Business

Happier? Initial results from Finland's experiment with basic income come in

Finland was the world’s first country to experiment nationwide with giving unemployed people a set amount of money every month, no strings attached, over a two-year period. It was hoped that the basic income would provide an incentive to help recipients find work.

CGTN’s June-wei Sum reports.

Now the first results of this universal basic income experiment have come in, and it is a mixed bag.

From January 2017 to December 2018, 2,000 unemployed Finns received an unconditional monthly payment of €560 or about $630, to see if it would help them get back to work.   That is about the same amount as what they would get on their usual unemployment benefit, but involved less paperwork and was guaranteed, even if they found work in the meantime.

Sini Marttinen, one of the participants in the basic income trial, felt that the main impact on her was how she felt about her life situation and opportunities, “The basic income trial actually gave some freedom and I think the biggest effect was psychological, so you kind of got this idea you have two years, you have the security of 560 euros per month and you have to do something with that money.”

So far, findings on the first year of the experiment, show that those who received a basic income were not any more likely to find work than those who did not. On the upside, those in the test group reported better well-being in terms of stress and levels of health.  

But researchers leading the pilot at Finland’s Social Insurance Institution, known as Kela, don’t believe this means the experiment failed.

Signe Jauhiainen, Lead Economic Researcher at Kela said, “Everything went according to plan. The basic income was paid monthly to the participants and we encountered no problems.”

In fact, Kela originally wanted a larger-scale pilot with 10,000 people – both those employed and unemployed – and for the test to run longer, in order to get more valid results.

As it stands, Finland’s main political parties say they are no longer keen to implement a universal basic income. Rhe final evaluation of the trial will be released in 2020, and other small-scale tests are taking place in other countries. 

Matthew Darling looks at the pros and cons of Universal Basic Income

CGTN’s Rachelle Akuffo spoke with Matthew Darling, vice president of Ideas42 about the pros and cons of Universal Basic Income.