Picture credit to: Business Insider
Finland’s Basic Income Experiment was the world’s first statutory, nationwide and randomized basic income experiment. That experiment, in which preliminary results have already been reported on, several research questions were asked: How did the Basic Income Experiment affect participants’ employment? What were the effects on health, livelihoods and experiences of government bureaucracy? In interviews, how do the participants perceive the significance of the experiment in their lives?
The final results of the basic income experiment will be released on Wednesday, May 6th 2020, online. In this webcast, researchers present findings of the basic income experiment on employment and well-being of the participants.
The results presented are based on an analysis register data from both pilot years as well as on face-to-face interviews with the participants in the experiment. In addition, survey data has been analyzed more comprehensively than before.
The webcast will be held, in Finnish, from 1 pm to 2:15 pm and, in English, from 2:20 pm to 3:00 pm (Finnish time, GMT+3). The webcast is open to anyone interested.
The findings were publicized at a lauch event
on the referred day, organized by the McMaster Institute for Health Equity taking place at the L.R. Wilson Concert Hall, and having Hugh Segal as a guest. From the new study conclusions, it can be read:
- Everyone who received basic income reported benefitting in some way.
- Many recipients reported improvements in their physical and mental health, labour market participation, food security, housing stability, financial status and social relationships.
- Basic income also had a noticeable impact on the use of health services, with many of the survey respondents indicating less frequent visits to health practitioners and hospital emergency rooms.
- For a significant number of participants, basic income purportedly proved to be transformational, fundamentally reshaping their living standards as well as their sense of self-worth and hope for a better future.
- The majority of those employed before the pilot reported working while they were receiving basic income. Many reported moving to higher paying and more secure jobs.
- Those working before the pilot reported even greater improvements on some measures of well-being than those who were not working before.
More information at:
Laurie Monsebraaten, “Did basic income drive people to quit work? Not according to a Mac study of recipients“, The Hamilton Spectator, March 4th 2020
Things are stirring in Liverpool. In the aftermath of Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell’s commissioned report on basic income, Liverpool mayor John Anderson and councillor Jane Corbett have manifested their will to pursue a basic income pilot program in the city, if Labour gets into office in the next elections. However, they also have expressed their concerns about the possibility of Tories staying in power, and pursuing themselves the idea of doing basic income trials in the United Kingdom. Anderson and Corbett argue that no one, under a UBI trial, should be left worse off than under the current circumstances, which implies not cutting certain social benefits targeting the most vulnerable.
Jane Corbett has said, at a city council governance meeting: “My worry about UBI is that right-wingers like the ones in government now will say ‘once people have got their UBI they can go away without any other help’”. Even still, a working group studying the basic income possibility has been formed and is functioning within the city council. This group includes councillors Ann O’Byrne and Patrick Hurley, the first ones to officially calling for a basic income implementation, within Liverpool’s sphere of governance.
As for the UBI being considered for experimentation, the idea is to initially distribute 2400 £/year to each adult, plus a 1500 £/year grant for each child under the program. On a second stage, the amount for adults could be doubled onto 4800 £/year, disbursed at 400 £/month. Details for the plan are still inexistent or kept out of publications, so at this moment there is no information on how many people the experiment might include, for how long it shall be rolled out, what changes to present-day social security it might imply, and what outcomes are expected to be regularly monitored.
More information at:
Nick Tyrrell, “Joe Anderson makes Universal Basic Income promise as work on radical policy continues”, Echo, July 29th 2019
André Coelho, “United Kingdom: As the first Labour Party commissioned report on basic income comes out, renewed interest on the policy surfaces in the UK”, Basic Income News, May 13th 2019
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.
Wall painting in Sheffield.
The Universal Basic Income (UBI) Lab Sheffield, a campaigning group working from the city of Sheffield, northern UK, has written to all the 84 city councilors in the region, as a move to have them support a local basic income experiment.
The main driver behind the initiative is to “ensure that nobody is economically left out, and that nobody lives in poverty”, in the words of Sam Gregory. This basic income experiment, as proposed by the UBI Lab Sheffield, would be applied in one of three ways:
- Removing conditions from social benefits from around 4000 ill or disabled people (while another 4000 people group act as control group) (costing around 18 million £);
- Paying 130 £/month (Note 1) to 4000 adults living next to each other (for instance, in a neighbourhood) (costing around 23 million £);
- Applying different tax and benefits rules to a 4000 people group, whereas one subset would get, unconditionally, 6000 £/year, disabled or retired people would receive benefits above that level, and children would benefit from a smaller amount. Costing 60 million £, the test pilot would be funded by a new income tax (applied only within that 4000 people group), ensuring that all those earning less than 25000 £/year would see a net raise in their income.
This experiment is set to last for three years, according to the UBI Lab Sheffield’s design strategy. The idea is to measure several outputs, including but not limited to participation in the (paid) workforce, such as broader activity and personal care. Interviews and other qualitative studies would also be a part of all options, as described above.
Campaigners consider Sheffield a promising basic income test ground, but recognize that the city has no funding options for such an experiment. So, it would have to depend on central government financing, which can be more difficult, considering all the political agitation at the moment due to the Brexit-related issues (Sheffield was one of Britain’s cities to marginally vote pro-Brexit). However, the Labour Party is strong in Sheffield (holds 53 out of 84 seats in the city council), and its candidates for the upcoming elections in May already asked UBI Lab Sheffield for information. Sheffield Green Party is also supporting an UBI experiment in the city, as part of its campaign to the city council elections.
Note 1 – The National Living Wage in the UK is around 1300 £/month (calculated from hourly living rate for workers aged 25 and over).
More information at:
Mike Brown, “Universal Basic Income: Brexit-Voting Sheffield May Be England’s First Test”, Inverse, April 1st 2019
Mark Bryan, Jason Leman (lead authors), “Proposal for a Sheffield pilot“, UBI LAB Sheffield, March 2019