With the basic income experiment set to finish at year’s end, some details on how the ongoing evaluation study will proceed

The Finnish basic income experiment will end as scheduled on 31 December 2018. An evaluation of the experiment has already started, and first results can be expected early in 2019.

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The main goal of the evaluation is to help understand how receiving a basic income affects the income, wellbeing and employment status of the participants.

According to lead researcher Minna Ylikännö of Kela, registry data can offer insight into issues related to employment, income and take-up of social benefits among the experimental and control groups. The data obtained from registries are complemented by interviews and surveys. The research team will also look at general attitudes and public discourse concerning the basic income.

Limited preliminary results will come out in February 2019. A more extensive report on the first year of the experiment will come out later in spring 2019. It will contain results both from the registry-based study and from surveys and interviews. Results for the entire experiment will become available about one year after that.

Phone survey launched

A survey on the basic income experiment was launched in mid-October. In the survey, members of the experimental and control groups will be contacted by phone and asked about their employment status, health and wellbeing as well as about their views on social security.

All 2,000 recipients of a basic income and 5,000 members of the control group are invited to take part in the survey. The members of the control group received unemployment benefits from Kela in November 2016, but were not enrolled in the basic income experiment. According to Minna Ylikännö, some will be invited for in-depth thematic interviews next spring.

Kela is responsible for organising the evaluation study and conducts it together with the VATT Institute for Economic Research and other partners. The study is funded by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and by Kela.

An exceptional social experiment

An experiment testing a basic income was launched in Finland in January 2017. In the experiment, 2,000 randomly selected unemployed persons are paid a monthly basic income of 560 euros regardless of any other income they may have or whether they are actively looking for work. The participants were selected from among the persons receiving basic unemployment allowance or labour market subsidy payments in November 2016 who were between 25 and 58 years of age.

According to the project’s scientific leader, professor Olli Kangas of the University of Turku, the basic income experiment is an exceptional social experiment both for Finland and internationally in that it is set up as a randomised field experiment where participation is obligatory. This permits more reliable conclusions to be drawn than was the case in previous social experiments.

In October-November, Kela will send members of the experimental group a letter advising them on how to proceed as the experiment ends. Kela has also set up a dedicated helpline for the participants.