Further preliminary results from Finland’s much publicised basic income experiment have been announced: firstly, the study’s basic income recipients reported increased trust; secondly, increased agency; and thirdly (perhaps unsurprisingly), they reported an improved financial situation.

The experiment ran for two years, starting on January 1st 2017. It was administered by the Social Insurance Institution of Finland (Kela). Its main objective was to find ways to reshape the Finnish social security system in response to a changing labour market. A total of 2000 unemployed persons between 25 and 58 years of age received a monthly payment of € 560, unconditionally (to be spent as recipient saw fit) and without means testing.

BIEN has already reported on how the the experimenters observed a positive impact on reported wellbeing and a non-significant impact on employment. These latest announcements, released on April 4th, add to this. The full set of preliminary results can be found in this report.

Regarding increased trust, respondents who received a basic income had more trust in other people and in societal institutions — i.e., politicians, political parties, police and the courts — than members of the control group. On a scale from 0 to 10, the average score for trust in other people increased from 6.3 in the control group, to 6.8 amongst basic income recipients. As for trust in politicians and political parties, the average score increased from 4.0 to 4.5. For the combined category of courts and the police, the average score increased from 6.9 to 7.2.

According to Minna Ylikännö of Kela, trust in other people and in institutions is essential both to individual well-being and to the functioning of society at large.

Regarding increased agency, recipients reported greater confidence in their ability to influence their own lives when it came to personal finance and finding employment. On a scale of 0 to 5, recipients reported a score of 3.2, whereas the control group reported an average score of only 2.9.

Regarding personal finances, recipients reported an increase in their ability to live comfortably. Participants in the experiment were asked to categorise their financial situation as either ‘living comfortably’, ‘coping’, ‘finding it difficult’, or ‘finding it very difficult’. The proportion of people describing themselves as living comfortably increased from 7% in the control group to 12% amongst basic income recipients. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the proportion of people who described themselves as ‘finding it very difficult’ decreased from 17% in the control to 13% amongst basic income recipients.

All of the above-mentioned differences persisted even after background factors were controlled for. The data was gathered through phone interviews conducted immediately before the experiment was concluded. Further results are expected soon.

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