News; News & Events

FINLAND: Basic Income experiment authorized by Parliament

Kela, the Social Insurance Institution of Finland, announced on December 14 that the Finnish Parliament has passed the act authorizing an experiment of basic income. The experiment is set to begin on January 1, 2017.

Finland’s Ministry of Social Affairs and Health drafted the legislative proposal for the experiment in August, and submitted the proposal to Parliament after hearing public opinions on the draft proposal. The proposal elicited some controversy, in part due to the relatively small size of the basic income (560 EUR) as well as the choice of sample population, which will consist only of recipients of the country’s unemployment benefits. However, the basic design of the experiment remains unchanged: a random sample of 2,000 individuals, drawn from current working-age beneficiaries of unemployment benefits, will receive an unconditional basic income of 560 EUR per month for a two-year period. (Brief responses to the objections are included in the most recent version of Kela’s report on the experiment.)

The primary objective of the experiment is to assess whether an unconditional basic income promotes employment. Experimenters will compare the employment rate among basic income recipients to that within a control group of individuals who continue to receive traditional unemployment benefits. As Kela’s website states, the Finnish government is interested in basic income due to its potential to “reduce the amount of work involved in seeking financial assistance” and “free up time and resources for other activities such as working or seeking employment”. The experiment will also provide data used to estimate the cost of implementing a nationwide basic income.

The 2,000 experimental subjects will be chosen by a random-sampling algorithm and contacted by the end of December. Participation is mandatory for those selected.

The first payments will be distributed to subjects on January 9, 2017. Automatic payments will continue through December 2018.

More information about the experiment is available on Kela’s newly-launched web page, Basic Income Experiment 2017–2018.


Kela (December 14, 2016) “Preparations for the basic income experiment continue

Photo (Helsinki) CC BY-NC 2.0 Jaafar Alnasser

About Kate McFarland

Kate McFarland has written 512 articles.

Former lead writer and editor of Basic Income News.

The views expressed in this Op-Ed piece are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the view of Basic Income News or BIEN. BIEN and Basic Income News do not endorse any particular policy, but Basic Income News welcomes discussion from all points of view in its Op-Ed section.


  • Vald

    The commitment of Finnish authorities to Basic Income is alreadynot based on UNCONDITIONAL right of every citizen as it is stated in the article 25 of the Universal Declaration of the Human rights. Even before it is issued it is already supposed to be payed to unemployed only. this is’nt according to the principal purpose of BI.

    • Claire Carter

      It’s a test, if it works that will be a huge amount of ammunition for basic income proponents regardless of what Finland’s interpretation is.

  • X

    First they hijack the term basic income, then set up a “basic income” experiment in such a way that it will fail, so that you can say “Oh, we’ve tried basic income back in 2017 and it didn’t work, so let’s not go that route” and then your job in the unemployment-industry is saved.

  • John Logsdon

    It is a basic income as far as the recipients are concerned. It may not be for everyone but by targeting the already unemployed, there is a clear metric for success. However this is not the only potential advantage of UBI and I hope therefore that measures of wellbeing are included in the evaluation.

    The present UK unemployment benefit (to give it its old title) is totally inhumane sometimes leaving people without money for weeks on end. Poverty affects peoples’ mental health very badly and where that poverty comes out of the blue, whether from bureaucratic incompetence or traffic jams, the effect can be devastating.

    So it is crucial for the Finnish experiment that the drawn from a wide variety of people, with long term unemployment history, episodic, with children, medical issues, as to be able to measure the benefits in more that purely monetary terms.

    To me a sample size of 2000 seems rather small to be able to extract such results.

  • With that low of an income it would fail. Even there no one can live in that small amount. Jobs are no longer growing on trees any more due to robotics.

  • Heather

    People receiving unemployment benefits are already receiving a “basic income”. How is this clear or objective, and how is it truly an experiment?

  • Matt

    We must adopt this system without delay. I have been looking at the jobs market for 9 years and been looking for a job for the last year,

    The jobs market is grim. The jobs that were there are no longer and we see in the UK 15 high street shops closing per day.

    We can no longer continue with this situation.

    Basic Income will empower people through wealth and create wealth and the economy will grow. Social care can be met by more volunteers available. It is a win win situation for all.

    To bury our heads in the sand do nothing is not an option.

  • Alan

    Basic income in a country like Finland will make almost no difference. We need to try it in a country with higher economic inequality.

  • Pongodhall

    It is very low, and will not be enough to live on.
    It is compulsory for chosen participants, why compulsory?
    Will a member of parliament live in same conditions, on same income, NO access to extras for two years too?

    • Kate McFarland

      The justification for making participation compulsory was to eliminate a possible source of bias (if participants were self-selected).

  • Roderick S. Beck

    If the basic income is set too high, then it will discourage working. A lot of you want a free lunch. A guaranteed income high enough for comfortable living without any obligation to work. Such an idea is naive in the extreme. A basic income will have to be set low enough so that it does not reduce the incentive to work.

  • Petri

    Basic income is an experiment. Summary is niot much or enough for living .Rent ,eating and so on.. But it means that if you don have work you get the basic in come and the rest is sosial in come witch uoy have to implore for example for your house rent.

    Difred betveen unemployments benefit is thet you don have to sent an announsmet every fourt week to get the 500 e for living. Tahts different betveen basic income and unemploument benefits, whitch in mainly the last income whitch is covered with constitutional law.

    Non in 2017 April our coverment has disided that the get the last sosial income people who are without work would have to do sameting against unemploument benefits . If people are not willing ti do whwt they want thet cut the last in come.

    We have about betveen 500.000 – 600.000 people withouth work and 2000 is in basick in come eperiment. So situationen is not guite so glorious

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