It looks like Finland’s basic income experiment worked

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For the last two years the Finnish government has been giving 2000 unemployed people a guaranteed, no-strings-attached payment each month. It is the world’s most robust test of universal basic income, and the preliminary results, released this morning, seem to dispel some of the doubts about the policy’s negative impacts.

Universal basic income comes in different flavours, but the essence of the idea is to give everyone a guaranteed income that covers their basic needs, like housing and food. Crucially, the income is the same for everyone all the time – it does not get reduced if, for example, a person gets a job or a salary increase.

The Finnish results were hotly anticipated because the experiment’s careful design promised robust evidence on UBI. “This is an exceptional experiment, both socially and globally,” said Pirkko Mattila, Finland’s Minister of Social Affairs and Health, at a press conference.

The experiment began in December 2016. Kela, the Social Insurance Institution of Finland, randomly selected 2000 people aged between 25 and 58 from across the country who were on unemployment benefits.

It then replaced those people’s benefits with a guaranteed payment of €560 a month. They would continue receiving the payments whether they got a job or not.

The experiment ended on 31 December 2018 and preliminary results were published this morning. It compared the income, employment status and general wellbeing of those who received the UBI with a control group of 5000 who carried on receiving benefits.

There was no difference between the two groups in terms of the number of days in employment in 2017 – both groups worked on average 49 days. The UBI trial group only earned €21 less on average than the control group during 2017.

 

Read the rest of this story at newscientist.com here.

Photo credit: CGP Grey, flickr.