Finland scraps universal basic income experiment Finland scraps universal basic income experiment

Finland scraps universal basic income experiment
02 May 2018

Finland has scrapped its universal basic income experiment, which involved giving 2,000 unemployed Finns roughly US$690 every month with no strings attached.

The participants, aged 25 to 58, were all unemployed, but were allowed to keep the money if they found a job during the two-year trial period. While the project has been praised internationally for being at the cutting edge of social welfare, domestic critics said it had gone in the wrong direction.

According to Business Insider, the initial plan was that the experiment would expand in early 2018 to include both workers and unemployed people, but this situation did not take place. Researchers at Kela, Finland's social security institution, said this scenario left them unable to study whether the basic income would enable citizens to make new career moves or enter training or education more easily.

Olli Kangas, a professor who is one of the experts behind the trial, told Finland's public-service broadcaster YLE: "Two years is too short a timeframe to be able to draw extensive conclusions from such a vast experiment. We ought to have been given additional time and more money to achieve reliable results. 

In recent years, an increasing number of tech entrepreneurs have endorsed the notion of a universal basic income, under which people receive a standard amount of money from the state whatever their circumstances. They believe that the approach, combined with other methods of combatting poverty, could help to solve potential workforce problems based on increasing levels of automation.

But Finland's trial took a different tack by targeting the long-term unemployed. The Finnish government argued that existing unemployment benefits were so high and the system so rigid that an unemployed person might choose not to take a job in case they risked losing money. The basic-income trial was designed to encourage people to take up work.

To compound the situation, last December, the Finnish Parliament also passed a bill introducing a new 'activation model' law that required job seekers to work a minimum of 18 hours or enter a training program within three months. It stipulated that if they failed to find work, they could lose some of their benefits.

Finland is now planning a universal credit trial similar to the UK’s, which consolidates several different benefits and tax credits into one account. Official findings from Finland's basic-income experiment are expected to be published as early as next year.

 Emma Wool

Emma Woollacott is a freelance business journalist. Her work has appeared in a wide range of publications, including the Guardian, the Times, Forbes and the BBC.

Finland has scrapped its universal basic income experiment, which involved giving 2,000 unemployed Finns roughly US$690 every month with no strings attached.

The participants, aged 25 to 58, were all unemployed, but were allowed to keep the money if they found a job during the two-year trial period. While the project has been praised internationally for being at the cutting edge of social welfare, domestic critics said it had gone in the wrong direction.

According to Business Insider, the initial plan was that the experiment would expand in early 2018 to include both workers and unemployed people, but this situation did not take place. Researchers at Kela, Finland's social security institution, said this scenario left them unable to study whether the basic income would enable citizens to make new career moves or enter training or education more easily.

Olli Kangas, a professor who is one of the experts behind the trial, told Finland's public-service broadcaster YLE: "Two years is too short a timeframe to be able to draw extensive conclusions from such a vast experiment. We ought to have been given additional time and more money to achieve reliable results. 

In recent years, an increasing number of tech entrepreneurs have endorsed the notion of a universal basic income, under which people receive a standard amount of money from the state whatever their circumstances. They believe that the approach, combined with other methods of combatting poverty, could help to solve potential workforce problems based on increasing levels of automation.

But Finland's trial took a different tack by targeting the long-term unemployed. The Finnish government argued that existing unemployment benefits were so high and the system so rigid that an unemployed person might choose not to take a job in case they risked losing money. The basic-income trial was designed to encourage people to take up work.

To compound the situation, last December, the Finnish Parliament also passed a bill introducing a new 'activation model' law that required job seekers to work a minimum of 18 hours or enter a training program within three months. It stipulated that if they failed to find work, they could lose some of their benefits.

Finland is now planning a universal credit trial similar to the UK’s, which consolidates several different benefits and tax credits into one account. Official findings from Finland's basic-income experiment are expected to be published as early as next year.

 Emma Wool

Emma Woollacott is a freelance business journalist. Her work has appeared in a wide range of publications, including the Guardian, the Times, Forbes and the BBC.

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