Jobs and the Future of Work

Finland's basic income experiment is already making people feel better after just 4 months

A teller counts euro banknotes inside a National Bank of Greece branch in Athens February 10, 2010. Euro zone countries held intensive talks on Wednesday on a possible rescue for Greece, whose debt crisis has shaken the entire currency union, as civil servants staged the first big strike against Athens' austerity plans. Financial markets gave Greece some respite as investors hoped that other European governments would help Athens to head off a possible default on its debt repayments. REUTERS/John Kolesidis  (GREECE - Tags: BUSINESS POLITICS IMAGES OF THE DAY) - RTR2A1JP

Turunen emphasizes that Kela won't provide any formal data on the trial's effectiveness until 2018. Image: REUTERS/John Kolesidi

Chris Weller
Ideas Reporter, Business Insider
Share:
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on Jobs and the Future of Work?
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how Future of Work is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:

Future of Work

Four months after Finland's social-security institution Kelalaunched a two-year experiment in basic income, a system of wealth distribution in which people receive a salary just for being alive, some of the 2,000 recipients are already reporting lower levels of stress.

The $600 they receive each month might not be much, but it's enough to put some people's anxiety at ease, Marjukka Turunen, head of Kela's legal benefits unit, told Kera News.

"There was this one woman who said: 'I was afraid every time the phone would ring, that unemployment services are calling to offer me a job,'" Turunen recalled of a woman who needed to care for her parents, and so couldn't work.

Basic income is foremost a solution to poverty. Advocates say the system gives poor people exactly what they lack: cash. It puts money in their pocket to fix a leaky roof, buy a car to get to work, or save up for emergency funds. It's not enough to live on, but it prevents people from slipping through the cracks.

With that financial security comes additional benefits, says Scott Santens, a basic income advocate and writer. Santens has been receiving a basic income for the last couple years from the crowdfunding site Patreon. He says basic income redistributes power into the middle-class — namely, to turn down unappealing jobs — and promotes trust.

Image: basicincome.org

Basic income "says everyone should be given a minimum amount of trust, because the way we currently use pieces of paper to measure and distribute trust is fatally flawed without it," he says, offering the example of supermarkets being full of food while millions of hungry people can't access it. "Everyone is worth enough trust to enable their basic survival."

Finland's program is a modified version of basic income, since most advocates claim the system must be unconditional. Finns had to have been unemployed when they applied in 2016 to receive the benefits.

However, if they happened to have found a job after applying or after the experiment started, they will continue to receive the $600 each month.

Turunen emphasizes that Kela won't provide any formal data on the trial's effectiveness until 2018. The participants who speak to the press may not represent the entire pool of recipients, she told Basic Income Earth Network. "The results must be very carefully analyzed according to the information we only get at the end of next year."

Turunen has expressed high hopes for the trial. Experiments in Kenya and elsewhere have shown basic income can work on a small scale. As she told Business Insider in January, however, the long-term data still doesn't exist.

"Some people might stay on their couches, and some might go to work," she says. "We don't know yet."

If there are couch potatoes, they at least seem to be relaxed.

Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Related topics:
Jobs and the Future of WorkGeographies in DepthEconomic Growth
Share:
World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

How the ‘NO, NO’ Matrix can help professionals plan for success

Eli Joseph

April 19, 2024

About Us

Events

Media

Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum