Research team recommends expansion of basic income experiment in 2018

The first stage of the Finnish basic income experiment will be launched at the beginning of 2017. The team of researchers who explored various alternatives for implementing the experiment hopes to see the experiment continue after the initial stage.

According to Olli Kangas of Kela, who led the team, the model which will be investigated in 2017 should be seen as the first step in a series of experiments testing various types of basic income.

A total of 2,000 persons between ages 25 and 58 who are paid unemployment benefits paid by Kela will participate in the first stage. The research team recommends that the sample size be increased in 2018 to include other persons with small incomes. The inclusion of young persons under the age of 25 should be considered as well.

The team recommends that nationwide sampling continue to be used because regional experiments would be very expensive.

Planning should begin at once

The first stage was planned on a very tight schedule.

Olli Kangas says that the government should as quickly as possible decide how to move forward with the series of experiments. If the decision is made to plan a new model, the first steps should be taken soon after the turn of the year. More detailed plans cannot be made until the budget for an expanded experiment has been decided, Kangas adds.

Subsequent experiments could test various levels of basic income as well as different tax models and study designs. New population groups could be included as well. The incomes registry which is planned to be introduced in 2019 or 2020 will also make it possible to test a negative income tax.

Basic income experiment promotes a positive image for Finland

The international attention that the basic income experiment has attracted has had a very positive effect on Finland's image. The research team believes that this momentum towards building a country brand should be maintained.

According to Kangas, there has been enormous international interest in the experiment. Members of the research team have given hundreds of interviews to international media and made numerous presentations on research forums, political arenas and embassies from Sweden to Mexico. The reports have extolled Finland as an innovative country that does not hesitate to try out new and original policies, Kangas says.

The goal is to build stronger incentives into the social security system

The basic income experiment is one of the items on the programme of Prime Minister Juha Sipilä's government. Its goal is to evaluate whether a basic income could help to simplify the social security system and associate it with stronger work incentives.

The final report of the research team led by Kela looks at the preconditions, problems and corrective measures identified in the first stage of the experiment. The report also offers recommendations for how to develop the design and implementation further in upcoming additional experiments.

The team presented its preliminary report in March 2016. It outlined various basic income models and study designs and estimated their cost and impact. Because of a tight schedule and budget, most of the recommendations made in the preliminary report cannot be implemented in the first stage of the experiment.

From idea to experiments - Final report on alternatives for implementing a basic income experiment

In brief
First stage of the basic income experiment 2017-2018

  • Objective: To explore the effects of a basic income both in terms of the participants' employment status and more generally.
  • Level of the basic income: €560 per month, tax free
  • Target group: Residents of Finland between 25 and58 years of age who are being paid basic unemployment allowance or labour market subsidy as of November 2016.
  • Sample: A total of 2,000 persons are selected at random from the target group. Participation is obligatory in order not to produce skewed results. The rest of the target group will serve as controls.