“It’s a pity that it will end like this,” said Olli Kangas, who oversees research at Kela, a Finnish government agency that administers many social welfare programs and has played a leading role in the basic-income experiment. “The government has chosen to try a totally different path. Basic income is unconditional. Now, they are pursuing conditionality.”
The demise of the project in Finland does not signal an end of interest in the idea. Other trials are underway or being explored in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Canadian province of Ontario, the Netherlands and Kenya.
The basic income trial, which started at the beginning of 2017 and will continue until the end of this year, has given monthly stipends of 560 euros ($685) to a random sample of 2,000 unemployed people aged 25 to 58. Recipients have been free to do as they wished — create start-ups, pursue alternate jobs, take classes — secure in the knowledge that the stipends would continue regardless.
The Finnish government was keen to see what people would do under such circumstances. The data is expected to be released next year, giving academics a chance to analyze what has come of the experiment.
In the meantime, Finland has already moved on to consider a broader revamping of its social service programs. It is studying a new form of social welfare policy now in effect in Britain: so-called universal credit, which rolls existing government aid programs into one monthly lump sum payment.
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