A limited experiment with “basic income” in Finland failed to move the needle on unemployment or self-employment, but those who received no-strings-attached government money reported feeling happier, to the surprise of no one.
Beginning in 2017, some 2,000 recipients of unemployment benefits were given a monthly stipend of €560, tax-free and without any conditions, as part of an experiment in simplifying welfare and lowering unemployment.
A preliminary report published on Friday by the Finnish welfare administration Kela shows that the experiment’s effect on unemployment or self-employment was almost nonexistent.
However, the recipients of the stipend reported feeling happier and less stressed than the control group, made up of those who received traditional unemployment and welfare benefits
Kela statistics showed the stipend recipients worked an average of half a day more than the control group, and actually earned €21 less on average from self-employment.
However, 55% of them described their health as good or very good, compared to only 46% of the control group. Stress levels were also eight percentage points lower among the stipend recipients, in line with reports from the program’s early days.
Proponents of universal basic income were quick to point out the positive well-being and stress statistics coming out of the Finnish experiment, while glossing over the unemployment part of the equation.
Finland, however, seems unwilling to go in that direction, opting for a redesign of its welfare system instead.
Canada and Kenya have conducted guaranteed income experiments in the past. Swiss voters overwhelmingly rejected it in a 2016 referendum, with almost 77% voting against.
However, less crime means lower justice and health care costs leading to a better society with less poverty for all.
RT. com / ABC Flash Point Welfare News 2019.