The Finnish Social Insurance Institution, Kela, is currently drawing plans for a nation-wide implementation of basic income – a social system that would provide a guaranteed, sufficient income to all people, regardless of whether they work or not.
It seems like in the past couple of years, we’ve been writing more and more about basic income – because the entire idea is picking up a lot of steam. In case you’re not familiar with the concept, basic income is basically a universal basic income, a system of social security in which all citizens or residents of a country regularly receive an unconditional sum of money from the government or a public institution. At a first glance, this sounds absurd; giving people money for doing nothing, how could that work? Well, in a developed world where manual labor is required less and less, people would get rid of the stress of having to work something they detest just to make a living, and it will allow them to focus on what they actually want to do. But wouldn’t people just stop working? Well… no. Several pilots have already been done over the past decades. Even in the US, back in the 70s, Guaranteed Annual Income (GAI) was a goal of President Nixon and the House even successfully passed a bill for it. Large-scale pilots were implemented in Seattle and Denver, finding that hardly anyone stopped working; men reduced their hours on average by 8%, and women did so even less. It was also shown to harbor a healthier economy, increase administrative efficiency, reduce bureaucracy and increase competence for key positions.
Recent pilots have also been implemented, to test how the system would work in the modern market, most notably in the Netherlands. The recently elected Finnish government is also committed to a basic income economy, and Kela is already designing how this can be rolled out. In its initial phase, the income will be 550 euro ($600), but in its full form, it will reach 800 euro ($900).
Kela says it will prepare the basic income proposal by next year, and it could revolutionize their entire social system. Hopefully, it will work – and inspire other countries in turn.