Finland is set to become the first European country to test a basic monthly income. Two thousand randomly chosen unemployed citizens will receive around $800 CDN per month over a two-year period to evaluate the initiative’s feasibility.
The country is already home to a very generous social safety net, which some politicians argue is actually a disadvantage to solving unemployment. Olli Kangas, whose government agency is responsible for social benefits in Finland, points to a “disincentive problem” – that people will refuse low-income jobs because they will no longer be able to collect help from the state.
“It’s highly interesting to see how it makes people behave,” Kangas said. “Will this lead them to boldly experiment with different kinds of jobs? Or, as some critics claim, make them lazier with the knowledge of getting a basic income without doing anything?”
Interestingly, the trial is being promoted by a centre-right government and will not require recipients of the basic monthly income to report on how they spend it.
Pending its effectiveness, the experiment may be broadened to include other low-income earners such as freelancers, small-scale entrepreneurs and part-time workers.