The newly elected centre-left government in Finland – the first of its kind in a decade – is expected to give the basic income experiment that recently failed a second chance.
The country’s Social Insurance Institution is currently drafting a report on a pilot project for a basic minimum income that will be published next spring. The policy will test 2,000 randomly-selected unemployed participants who will be given a no-strings-attached monthly payment of €560 to see if it encourages them to find work.
The initial analysis suggests that the experiment did not boost employment, but did improve overall health and provided data for bolder experiments such as a negative income tax.
According to Finland’s public news agency, Helsinki is now considering extending the programme to include different target groups – stay-at-home parents and students – to see how a basic income affects people doing jobs that they perhaps do not want to do, or earn very little.
Participants such as the 45-year old journalist Tuomas Muraja, who wrote a book on his experience with basic income, have underscored the project’s benefits, such as having enough financial security to look for a permanent job
Italy has also introduced a basic income policy, despite opposition in Brussels, which has demanded a tighter fiscal policy to reign in the country’s debt-to-GDP ratio.
Scotland is currently considering its own basic income experiment as part of its devolved legislative powers within the UK and is considering pilot projects in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Fife, and North Ayrshire.
“The Scottish government is committed to reducing poverty and tackling inequality,” Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell said, adding that the Scottish government is paying close attention to international basic income pilots.
Despite being a redistributive policy, conservative and libertarian circles in Europe and Canada have viewed basic income with some sympathy, as the policy infringes less on individual rights and is seen as a way to encourage employment.