Finland's income trial boosts happiness, not employment, Europe News & Top Stories

Helsinki skyline Helsinki Finland

Unlike with regular unemployment benefits, the experiment's participants were free to top up their allowance by taking up part-time jobs and weren't required to actively seek a full-time position.

Universal basic income recipients in Finland haven't improved their employment levels, but they have improved their well-being, the first results from the experiment have found.

Mr Simanainen said that while some individuals found work, they were no more likely to do so than a control group of people who weren't given the money.

The idea of a basic income as a replacement for means-tested welfare payments has its share of supporters on both the left and the right of the political spectrum.

He said the end of the two-year trial, during which he published two books, had made it hard again for him to accept commissions, because "I. can earn only 300 euros per month without losing any benefits".

It was run by the Social Insurance Institution (Kela), a Finnish government agency, and involved 2000 randomly selected people on unemployment benefits.

The recipients of a basic income had on average 0.5 days more in employment than the control group, Kela said.

In the Finnish experiment, the basic income is below what unemployment benefits pay, which is 32.40 euros a day, or nearly 1,000 euros ($1,135) a month - subject to income tax of about 30 percent.

The proportion that had had earnings or income from self-employment was approximately one percentage point higher for the recipients of a basic income than for the control group (43.70% and 42.85%).

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The amount of earned and entrepreneurial income was an average of 21 euros lower among the participants.

But those in the trial reported they were happier and healthier than the control group. 17% of the recipients of a basic income and 25% of the control group experienced quite a high degree or a very high degree of stress. "They were also more confident in their future and in their ability to influence societal issues", said Minna Ylikännö, lead researcher at Kela.

Ms Sini Marttinen, 36, said knowing her basic income was guaranteed had given her enough confidence to open a restaurant with two friends during the trial period.

People receiving basic income over the past two years said the tax-exempt benefit made it easier to set up a business and that they were pleased with the reduction in red tape.

"The results of the register analysis and the survey are not contradictory".

Proponents assert that a basic income can empower people to start new businesses and have a safety net, no matter how well their venture does.

The Nordic country's official unemployment rate was 5.4 percent in 2018.

The recipients of a basic income were selected through random sampling among those who in November 2016 received an unemployment benefit from Kela.

For one year, 2,000 randomly selected unemployed people were given an unconditional monthly basic income of $685 U.S. dollars.

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