Finland launches two-year basic income trial

04 January, 2017, 00:42 | Author: Celia Hoffman
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In a small experiment, 2,000 of the around 213,000 people in the country who are now unemployed have been selected to receive 560 euros (about $587) a month as part of their benefits package, according to the Guardian.

The experiment is conducted with 2,000 randomly picked unemployed participants between the ages of 25 and 58.

According to official data, the average private sector income in Finland is 3,500 euros per month. Olli Kangas from Finland's social insurance agency wondered. There are no strings attached and for the next two years, each participant will receive the sum regardless if they find or even attempt to seek a job or not. The first and most obvious is that they're expensive.

Kangas said the scheme's idea is to abolish the "disincentive problem" among the unemployed.

Unemployment benefits in Finland are pretty generous. If successful, the scheme could be expanded to people in low-income jobs such as freelancers, small-scale entrepreneurs and part-time workers. A charity raised millions of dollars to give a basic income to more than 6,000 people for up to 12 years. Instead of acting as a way to provide for those rendered jobless by technology, it is testing whether basic income could simplify the welfare system and reduce the perverse incentives it creates not to work. "It will increase the amount of money people have available while working in such jobs", he told Al Jazeera. Kangas also claims that the government is planning to expand this income experiment later on.

Critics dismissed basic income as an unworkable fantasy. "The fact that it is only tested on the unemployed also cancels the very same principle".

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Kela's research team recommends expanding the pilot program to include people with small incomes in 2018. Switzerland outright rejected a proposal of the concept in June, but there have been trials popping up around the globe, including some in Kenya; Ontario, Canada; and Utrecht, Netherlands.

"Ethically, sufficient basic income system would be more humane and less humiliating than the current benefit system". The experiment is meant to raise employment and cut poverty and bureaucracy.

The plan will be implemented through 2017 and 018 and the results will be evaluated in 2019.

The basic income has been an issue of discussion in recent years.

Is it time for Universal Basic Income?

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