Finnish basic income trial creates happiness, but not jobs

"The basic income recipients of the test group reported better wellbeing in every way in comparison with the comparison group", chief researcher Olli Kangas said. That could help reduce dependence on the state and cut welfare costs, especially as greater automation sees humans replaced in the workforce.

Finland's government announced on Friday the first findings from its basic income trial that ended a month ago, with researchers saying it had failed to spur the unemployed to work more and earn more as hoped.

Chief economist for the trial Ohto Kanniainen said the low impact on employment was not a surprise, given that many jobless people have few skills or struggle with hard life situations or health concerns. It can also encourage people to try a new job without the fear of losing their unemployment checks or having to go through the paperwork of reapplying for benefits.

Another control group of 5000 people were given the usual employment benefits from Kela, and were also asked about finding employment in the open labour market.

In the test, 55 percent of the recipients said they "felt well or very well", while in the comparison group that did not get the basic income only 46 percent did. "I think the effect was a lot psychological", the former IT consultant told Reuters. "It gave me the security to start my own business". This was compared to self-reporting from the control group using Finland's normal system, said the institute.

A ground-breaking trial to test the idea of giving everyone a universal basic income (UBI) has found it boosted mental health, but not employment. The Finnish trial was a bit different, as it focused on people who were unemployed.

Finland's social affairs minister, Pirkko Mattila, conceded on Friday that the government has no plans to roll out the scheme across the whole country.

Prime Minister Juha Sipila's Centre Party has proposed limiting the basic income to poor people, with sanctions if they reject a job offer, while Conservative finance minister Petteri Orpo says he favors a scheme like Britain's Universal Credit.

Anthony Painter, director of research and action at social charity the RSA, said the Finnish experiment showed there was a "strong case" for basic income experiments in the UK.

In a review of the Finnish scheme previous year, the OECD warned that implementing it nationally and cost-neutrally for the state would imply significant income redistribution, especially towards couples from single people, and increase poverty.

Such schemes are being trialled all over the world. So far, the only other large-scale experiment in a wealthy Western nation that could have rivaled it took place in the Canadian province of Ontario; participants were recruited by April 2018 - but after a change of government, the trial is being wound down prematurely. Like healthcare and education, income would become a right of citizenship. The results for the second year of the experiment will be published in the first few months of 2020.

The Finnish report was unveiled just a day after a group of Democrat lawmakers in the U.S. put forth, advocating for government-guaranteed "economic security" for all who are "unable or unwilling to work", among other things.

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.



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