Two-thirds of Europeans in favour of basic income

EPA/OLIVER BERG

Two-thirds of Europeans in favour of basic income


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As Finland considers a universal basic income under a new social reform plans, 64% of Europeans declare themselves in favour of an unconditional basic income, according to a new poll.

The poll about basic income was part of a Europe-wide survey based on 10.000 interviews conducted across 28 countries and in 21 languages in April 2016 by the Berlin-based company Dalia Research.

Finland may replace part of its social security net with a universal basic wage as it looks to rein in state spending, if a pilot project recommended by government advisors succeeds.

A government-commissioned working group in March proposed a tax-free monthly wage of 550 euros for the two-year pilot, to start next year and involve up to 10,000 adults of working age.

That sum, roughly equal to the unemployment and welfare assistance that covers food, personal hygiene, clothing and other daily expenses, would be supplemented, when necessary, with earnings-related benefits like housing allowance.

The Dalia Research opinion survey on basic income found that a great majority of Europeans know about basic income and are supportive of the idea. About 58% of the people are aware of basic income, and 64% would vote in favour of the policy if there was a referendum about it.

Only 24% of the respondents said they would vote against it, while 12% would not vote. More interestingly, though, the results show a correlation between the level of awareness about basic income and the level of support. In other words, the more people know about the idea, the more they tend to support it:

According to the survey, countries where basic income is most popular are Spain and Italy (with 71% and 69% of respondents, respectively, inclined to vote for a basic income).

On the other hand, as the Basic Income European Network (BIEN)  underlined, the most frequent fear or objection was that basic income would encourage people to stop working (43%). However, the survey also provided evidence that this would not in fact be the case — with only 4% of the respondents saying that they would stop working if they had a basic income. Moreover, only 7% said they would reduce their working time, while another 7% said they would look for another job. About 34% of the people surveyed said basic income would “would not affect my work choices” while another 15% said they would spend more time with their family.

This confirms the result of a previous poll conducted in Switzerland in January that a great majority of people want to work, despite having their basic needs met anyway.

Switzerland will hold a referendum in June on whether to introduce a basic 2,500 Swiss france income for all adults, and the Netherlands and France are considering similar moves. (BIEN, Reuters, Dalia Research)

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