Finland’s experiment has the first results and, contrary to the headlines over the world, it has valuable and positive inputs for our understanding of its consequences. The second part of the data will only be available in 2020, given that the final phase of the experiment will not be completed until next year.

On February 8th, Olli Kangas, scientific director of the study and Professor of Practice at the University of Turku, presented the preliminary results from the Basic Income experiment in Finland. The experiment, in which 2000 people on unemployment benefits received an unconditional payout of €560 per month, lasted for two years.

The results, although preliminary, show no significant change in unemployment in comparison to control groups. However, at the end of the experiment, recipients of the Basic Income perceived their well-being as being better. There are no firm conclusions to be made regarding the overall effects of the programme.

‘Reliable evaluations of the effects of the experiment will be available when all the materials gathered have been analysed while taking into account the parameters that constituted a framework for the experiment. After that we can evaluate the possible effects of an introduction of a basic income in Finland’, says Olli Kangas.

‘The recipients of a basic income had less stress symptoms as well as less difficulties to concentrate and less health problems than the control group. They were also more confident in their future and in their ability to influence societal issues’, says Minna Ylikännö, Lead Researcher at Kela.

Any discussion about the results need to acknowledge the fact that the idea to do a basic income experiment, at a national level, was adopted through public pressure.  However, the original design was later changed significantly by the Finish government, which decided to experiment only with less conditional unemployment benefits, i.e, a partial basic income only for those who had been ‘long-term unemployed.

For an in-depth analysis of what we can learn from Finland’s Basic Income trial, we recommend reading Scott Santens’ excellent first evaluation.