- Oct 2011
Finland engaged in a limited experiment with a universal basic income which has produced some preliminary findings:
So in short, positive health and psychological benefits, no clear reduction (or increase) in propensity to find work. Note that this program was limited to people who were already unemployed. Of course as always, there are real limits to what we can infer from a single study, especially given the findings are preliminary and focused on the first year of the study; no one should leap to any conclusions. I'm a bit confused as to why the authors of the study imagined a "stimulus to levels of employment" would occur in this situation, though: a mere 2,000 recipients of a relatively small stipend aren't enough to produce large scale economic effects which might increase employment, and the receipt of a UBI stipend produces no incentives to "settle" for a job quickly that a traditional unemployment stipend does not, so if anything, one might expect recipients of a UBI to go back to work more slowly, taking time to train or improve their skills. Given that, being "no better or worse than the control group at finding employment int he open labour market" is an interesting and arguably positive result.Helsinki (AFP) - A groundbreaking trial providing a guaranteed basic monthly income to 2,000 jobless people has led to improved wellbeing but failed to boost employment, Finnish authorities announced on Friday.
Last December the Nordic nation concluded a two-year experiment in which a randomly selected group of unemployed people were paid an unconditional, tax-free 560 euros ($634) a month.
Researchers studied whether the no-strings-attached income could better incentivise jobless people to find work than traditional unemployment benefits, which may be docked as soon as the recipient starts earning money.
Although the widest such study to be conducted in recent years in Europe, the Finnish trial was limited to participants who were already unemployed.
Proponents of a true "universal income" call for a monthly payent, sometimes described as a citizens' wage, to be given to everyone regardless of their wealth, family or work situation.
Nevertheless Finnish researchers believe their findings provide important insights for reforming the country's system of welfare payments.
"The recipients of a basic income had less stress symptoms as well as less difficulties to concentrate and less health problems than the control group," Minna Ylikanno, lead researcher at Finland's welfare authority Kela, said in a statement.
"They were also more confident in their future and in their ability to influence societal issues," she added.
Results at this stage are preliminary and relate only to the first year of the study, meaning Friday's findings are far from conclusive.
But a hoped-for stiumulus to levels of employment has not yet materialised, the project's researchers said.
"The recipients of a basic income were no better or worse than the control group at finding employment in the open labour market", Ohto Kanninen, research coordinator at the Labour Institute for Economic Research, said in a statement.