Finland's Universal Basic Income Experiment Found To Improve People's Wellbeing
A study into Finland's universal basic income scheme has discovered that, whilst it didn't necessarily encourage people to get back into work, it did improve everyone's confidence, overall satisfaction, and mental wellbeing.
Finland is the first European country to experiment with paying people a basic wage, whether they have a job or not.
The study was performed by researchers at the University of Helsinki in the Nordic nation's capital, and concluded: "The basic income recipients were more satisfied with their lives and experienced less mental strain than the control group,"
"They also had a more positive perception of their economic welfare."
With grim economic times expected as the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc, causing unemployment and financial turmoil, the idea of a universal basic income has found some support in high - and perhaps unexpected - places.
In fact, Pope Francis used his Easter address to suggest that "this may be the time to consider a universal basic wage".
The Spanish government has also said last month that this is something that they're looking into rolling out "as soon as possible" to come to the aid of around a million of the country's poorest homes.
Their economic affairs minister Nadia Calviño added that her government hopes that the universal basic income will become "permanent" very soon.
On these shores, Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon admitted that the dire economic forecast caused by the virus - which the Bank of England suggested could cause the worst downturn in history - had made her "much more strongly of the view that [universal basic income] is an idea that's time has come"
So, the Finnish scheme took place between 2017 and 2018 and saw 2,000 unemployed people given a regular monthly income of €560 (£490) whether or not they managed to get a job, and with no obligations incumbent on them to seek work.
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The idea was to see whether those people would seek work without having to be worried about losing their benefits.
It strictly isn't a universal basic income, because it was a limited scheme and the money wasn't enough to subside on wholly, but it was still scrutinise carefully by those interested in seeing whether such a scheme would work.
Professor Helena Blomberg-Kroll, who led the study, said: "Some people said the basic income had zero effect on their productivity, as there were still no jobs in the area they were trained for,
"But others said that with the basic income they were prepared to take low-paying jobs they would otherwise have avoided.
"Some said the basic income allowed them to go back to the life they had before they became unemployed, while others said it gave them the power to say no to low-paid insecure jobs, and thus increased their sense of autonomy."
She added that it gave participants "the possibility to try and live their dreams" and said that "freelancers, artists, and entrepreneurs" were positive about the scheme.
Some found that it gave them the opportunity to provide care for loved ones. Researcher Christian Kroll said: "The security of the basic income allowed them to do more meaningful things, as they felt it legitimised this kind of care work. Many of the people who performed such unpaid activities during the two-year period referred to it as work."
Kroll added that whilst it had created arguments both for and against universal basic income, one thing that could be taken is that "insecurity is not a good way to live."
He added: "While basic income can't solve all our health and societal problems, there is certainly a discussion to be had that it could be part of the solution in times of economic hardship."
Featured Image Credit: PA