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Finland: How did Basic Income become mainstream?

Johanna Perkiö, Doctoral Candidate, University of Tampere


A recent article on the Finnish basic income experiment has demonstrated how ‘framing’ the benefits of basic income in specific ways can make it acceptable to a wide political spectrum.


University of Tampere researcher Johanna Perkio has recently published an article examining how basic income has been perceived in Finnish political circle since the 1980s. Analysing party programmes and election manifestos, parliamentary motions and debates, and questions to ministers, she concludes that its take up within the current neo-liberal climate has been facilitated by seeing basic income as a way of dealing with economic problems of work and incentivisation.


Earlier debates, in the 1980s, emphasised notions of equal rights and fairness in employment. As more monetarist economic views began to dominate political thinking, basic income started being seen in terms of how it might incentivise the unemployed to find work. This was particularly true within political parties who were hesitant about supporting basic income.


Perkio also notes that the preliminary results from the Finnish experiment – which indicated that basic income led to increased well being amongst the recipients but did not necessarily help them find work – may mean that supporters of basic income need another frame to justify their support.


A blog post summarising the article is available online. The article itself is published by the Journal of Social Policy.

About Alastair Dunning

Alastair Dunning has written 3 articles.

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.

One comment

  • John Helmeke

    It is interesting from a cultural perspective how finding the right “frame” (or “paradigm”) for explaining something or persuading someone who might have a different political perspective than your own might best be done with the political “culture” of their political ideology. Yet I think it’s important to know your own reasons for supporting a public policy, such as Universal Basic Income (UBI), in order to keep your own mental sanity! Too often many elected political representatives and high officials in political party organizations are more interested in saying what will win votes – especially if they regard their service in elected politics as a political career than more of a public service. (This seems especially true of much of the Democratic Party as a political organization and those elected Democratic political representatives who claim to be “moderates” and in the “political center,” yet vote for such extreme measures as war and welfare benefit restrictions, and even cuts to food stamps despite rising income inequality and prices for housing, etc.).

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