Universal basic income options to be weighed

A working group of researchers from a range of organisations under the project leadership of Kela is exploring ways in which to carry out an experimental study focusing on the implementation of a universal basic income scheme. The project is part of the Finnish Government's analysis, assessment and research plan for 2015.

The Government's programme calls for the implementation of a universal basic income experiment. The purpose of the experiment is to find ways to reshape the social security system in response to changes in the labour market. The experiment will also explore how to make the system more empowering and more effective in terms of providing incentives for work. Further objectives include the reduction of bureaucracy and the streamlining the complicated system for providing welfare benefits.

The preliminary study will seek to identify a model for implementing the universal basic income experiment. The experiment in turn will evaluate the effect of a basic income in different population groups and produce an overall cost estimate.

The preliminary study is a collaboration between Kela's Research Department, the Universities of Helsinki, Tampere, Turku and Eastern Finland, the Sitra Innovation Fund, the think tank "Tänk", and the VATT Institute for Economic Research. The Federation of Finnish Entrepreneurs and experts on municipal affairs, tax law and constitutional matters will also contribute to the project. The project is headed by Professor Olli Kangas, director of research at Kela. It is carried out as part of the Government's analysis and research plan for 2015.

The preliminary study will begin right away. A review of existing information and experiments gained with models that have been trialled in other countries will be presented to government ministries and agencies in spring 2016. Following on from this, an analysis of experimental models and study designs will be produced in the second half of 2016. The universal basic income experiment is planned to be launched in 2017.

In September-October 2015, the Research Department at Kela conducted a survey in which nearly 70% of the respondents were favourably disposed to the idea of a universal basic income. Respondents found €1,000 per month to be a suitable amount for a basic income. Based on the survey results, a three-part entry was published on Kela's research blog which looks at support for a universal basic income in different socioeconomic groups and among voters with different party affiliations: blogi.kansanelakelaitos.fi/arkisto/2759.