Finnish basic income scheme lifted mental wellbeing: study - Metro US

Finnish basic income scheme lifted mental wellbeing: study

FILE PHOTO: An office of Social Insurance Institution KELA, is pictured in Helsinki

(Reuters) – Finland’s basic income scheme, which paid the unemployed a small salary regardless of whether they also found work, did little to encourage recipients into employment as hoped, but it did help their mental wellbeing, a first major study of the trial found.

The two-year scheme, which ran from 2017-18 saw 2,000 Finns, chosen randomly from among the unemployed, become the first Europeans to be paid a regular monthly income of 560 euros ($605.42) by the state that was not reduced if they found work.

The study said receiving a basic income caused Finns to describe their wellbeing more positively than others.

“The basic income recipients were more satisfied with their lives and experienced less mental strain than the control group. They also had a more positive perception of their economic welfare,” the study said.

Finland — the world’s happiest country for three years in a row, according to the United Nations — is exploring alternatives to its social welfare model.

The trial was watched closely by other governments who see a basic income as a way of encouraging the unemployed to take up often low-paid or temporary work without fear of losing their benefits. That could help reduce dependence on the state and cut welfare costs, especially as greater automation sees humans replaced in the workforce.

The study published on Wednesday echoed researchers’ initial comments from early 2019, shortly after the trial finished, but also showed that those on basic income worked slightly more days than those in the control group of unemployed.

(Reporting by Tarmo Virki in Tallinn; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)

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