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Why Finland’s Experiment in Universal Basic Income Is Important

Money bag icon on blackboard with hand

Making money is pretty much the bane of very human’s existence on this planet. I wish this weren’t the case–but that would be the kind of thinking that could only exist in a utopian future. Well, Finland is trying to make this utopian future an actual reality with universal basic income. This means the state provides citizens with money, regardless of how much they work.

According to Associated Press, Finland is starting a two-year trial that will give 2,000 randomly selected unemployed citizens a guaranteed basic monthly income of €560 (equivalent to $587), even after they’ve found work. Amazing, right? Their goal with this program is to experiment in new ways to decrease unemployment. Currently, the country has about an 8.1% unemployment rate, which means 213,000 out of 5.5 million people are without jobs.

Olli Kangas, of Finnish benefits agency KELA, told AP that the program is also meant to help citizens without a job refuse new work if it is short-term or low-paid, stating:

“It’s highly interesting to see how it makes people behave. Or, as some critics claim, make them lazier with the knowledge of getting a basic income without doing anything?”

While this base income is less than what the average private sector employee in Finland makes (which is roughly €3,500), it’s still a huge help. Other countries are doing their own trials, too. As The Verge pointed out, KenyaUtrecht in Netherlands, and Ontario in Canada are all following suit.

It definitely gives hope that several countries are starting to experiment with universal basic income, as we as a society definitely need to rethink how our economic system is structured, especially as the job market and family dynamics change. In general, it’s not an overstatement to say that our economic system only really benefits people who are able-bodied (and don’t have kids), leaving those with special needs and disabilities out–which is not OK.

Of course, that being said, critics feel these policies aren’t going far enough in terms of the amount of money provided. At this point, I’m just glad countries like Finland are trying to find solutions, even if they are imperfect, because we all know that families could use a little extra help–and really, why should it be a luxury to have enough?


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