Finland tests basic income by giving nearly $600 a month to 2,000 jobless citizens

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Finland started off their new year by guaranteeing some of its unemployed citizens a basic income of 560 euros ($587) for 2 years as a social experiment in efforts to lessen poverty and grow employment.

For 2 years, 2,000 unemployed citizens will receive 560 euros every month. They will not be asked on how they plan on using the money and the amount will be deducted from any other benefits they may already receive. Even after they find a job, they will still receive the payment of 560 euros a month.

Olli Kangas, from the Finnish government agency KELA, says that the idea of this program is to eliminate “disincentive problem” among unemployed citizens.

“It’s highly interesting to see how it makes people behave,” Kangas goes on. “Will this lead them to boldly experiment with different kinds of jobs? Or, as some critics claim, make them lazier with the knowledge of getting a basic income without doing anything?”

Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö. Image via YLE

Marjukka Turunen, the head of Kela’s legal benefits unit, thinks that this experiment will drive some entrepreneurs to come out of the woodwork to start their own business. This is said to be a risky move because business owners who are forced to close up their shop don’t receive unemployment benefits.

Kangas also added that this experiment may be expanded later to other low-income groups such as freelancers, small-scale entrepreneurs, and part-time workers.

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