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Finland: Going through a basic income experiment

Picture credit: Leena Kela (“Walk this way”)


The Finnish basic income (BI) experiment proceeds as planned. According to Kela, the Finnish social security agency, results will only start being analysed at the beginning of 2019, and their publication at the end of that year, or early 2020.


As already known, the purpose of the experiment is to evaluate participants behaviour in terms of employment, particularly employment rates. An intention exists, in spite of that, to evaluate “the wellbeing of the participants and their experiences when communicating and conducting business with the authorities”. To this end, questionnaires and interviews are being contemplated, but only when the experiment is over. Here, Kela officials are more cautious, stating that “timing the data collection requires detailed planning and an evaluation of the factors to be measured as well as an assessment of the potential impact of the various stages of the experiment, such as its conclusion, on the measurements”.


Finland has no plans to further the experiment after 2018, although is already experimenting with participatory social security, beginning this year. In fact, according to Miska Simanainen, a Kela researcher, “right now, the government is making changes that are taking the system further away from a basic income”, referring to an ‘activation model’ which the government is pushing through. That model is designed to partially cut benefits to people receiving assistance from Kela, if they don’t succeed in working (in a formal job) for at least 18 hours in three months.


It seems that these changes are contrary to what the initial proposition was, within Kela’s framework, which involved the expansion of the experiment (in early 2018) to include also workers, allowing for capturing information on life options, such as entering training or education. That, according to Olli Kangas, Kela’s director of Community Relations, would mean “have been given additional time and more money to achieve reliable results”.


On a comparative basis with other basic income like experiments around the world, for instance in Ontario and in Barcelona, the goal of these experiments stands out as a fundamental difference: while in Canada and Spain the (basic income) trials are aimed at testing whether people’s life conditions are improved, for instance in health, education and economic security, in Finland the goal is only to check whether people get into formal employment or not.



More information at:

The Basic Income Experiment will continue for another year – Analysis of the effects will begin in 2019”, Kela, 25th January 2018

Basic Income experiment at halfway point”, Kela, 18th December 2017

Kate McFarland, “Finland: first results from pilot study? Not exactly”, Basic Income News, 10th May 2017

Karin Olli-Nilsson, “Finland is killing its world-famous basic income experiment”, Business Insider – Nordic, 20th April 2018

About Andre Coelho

André Coelho has written 311 articles.

Activist. Engineer. Musician. For the more beautiful world our hearts know it's possible.

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.


  • Morgaine Swann

    This is very disappointing. If this article is correct, KELA has already abandoned the concept of #BasicIncome and turned it back into welfare. It isn’t supposed to help only those receiving assistance and it shouldn’t have a goal toward making people work. They had a chance to do something ground breaking, but didn’t follow through.

  • Does anyone know what the reasons were behind stopping the experiment? It seems like it was too early to get any results.

    • Andre Coelho

      Hi Devin,

      The experiment won’t be “stopped”. It just won’t be continued further than 2018, as Kela would have wanted.


    • My point wasn’t about “not continuing” vs “stopping”, but why? I can’t find much information online about what their reasoning was.

  • Ronald Stockton

    It doesn’t seem as if it was ever designed to be a real guaranteed, basic income. Measuring it’s success by whether or not people got jobs signals a judgmental elite looking for new ways to force people off benefits while appearing to be liberal. It was guaranteed to fail from the beginning, it’s only a surprise that the conservative government can’t wait another year before torpedoing it.

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