Free Money Didn’t Help People Find Jobs, Finland Says

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Distributing free money to the unemployed improves their well-being, but doesn’t appear to have any significant impact on their job prospects.

That’s according to the preliminary results of a landmark experiment in Finland, the first country in the world to trial a basic income at a national level.

The Nordic social welfare champion spent the last two years handing out 560 euros ($635) per month to a randomly selected group of 2,000 jobless people aged between 25 and 58. The basic aim was to explore new ways of distributing social security in a world where more workers are threatened by automation and fewer are likely to take on traditional nine-to-five jobs. The current system is seen as too bureaucratic and often dissuades people from taking on temporary or part-time work.

According to a preliminary assessment published on Friday by the social services agency Kela, the recipients of the monthly stipend spent on average about half a day more in employment per year than the control group.

“On the basis of an analysis of register data on an annual level, we can say that during the first year of the experiment the recipients of a basic income were no better or worse than the control group at finding employment in the open labor market,” said Ohto Kanninen, Research Coordinator at the Labour Institute for Economic Research.
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