Finnish basic income experiment boosts wellbeing rather than employment

11 Feb 19

Finland’s two-year experiment to give people an unconditional monthly income did not boost employment, researchers have said.

From January 2017 until December 2018, 2,000 unemployed Finns received a monthly payment of €560, with no strings attached. The experiment cost the government €20m.

It was designed to see if a guaranteed safety net would help people find jobs and support them to take up employment without fear of losing out on benefits.

The recipients, who were selected randomly, would not lose the monthly cash if they found a job. Unemployment in Finland is currently 8.1%, according to Statistics Finland.

Results from the experiment, released last week, found that it did not boost employment levels, but participants said they felt happier and less stressed.

Finland’s minister of health and social affairs Pirkko Mattila said the impact on employment of the monthly payment “seems to have been minor on the grounds of the first trial year”.

However, Olli Kangas, chief researcher at Kela, the Social Insurance Institution of Finland, which led the initiative,  also said: “The basic income recipients of the test group reported better wellbeing in every way [than] the comparison group.”

Finnish prime minister Juha Sipilä, who leads the Centre Party, has proposed limiting the basic income to poor people, with sanctions if they were to reject a job offer. But conservative finance minister Petteri Orpo has said he favours a scheme similar to the UK’s universal credit.

Finland – the world’s happiest country last year, according to the UN – was the first European country to test out the idea of a universal basic income.

A city in the Netherlands, Utrecht, is trialling a similar basic income study until October. 

Did you enjoy this article?

Related articles

Have your say

CIPFA latest