It has been given little recognition but Finland has issued its report on its Universal Basic Income (UBI) trial of 2017/18.
Actually, given the results, it doesn’t matter that the the trials were, in my view somewhat flawed, and it was not randomised as you had to be unemployed to receive it. So in effect you got an unconditional unemployment benefit – or, for the control group, a conditional one. Nonetheless they actually show that personal financial security is mind changing…
The three conclusions highlighted by the RSA were as follows
Recipients of basic income were more satisfied with their lives and experienced less mental strain, depression, sadness and loneliness than a control group.
Basic income had a mild positive effect on employment, particularly in certain groups such as families with children.
They also scored better on other measures of wellbeing, reporting a greater feeling of autonomy, financial security, and confidence in the future.
The RSA continues:
Wellbeing is a vital measure of economic insecurity. The Finnish Basic Income trials results published today show the importance of getting cash to people now. Even getting a small amount of money has a big effect on people’s agency and sense of control, especially those in real trouble, who this experiment focused on.
It could be argued that focussing on those in real trouble gave the experiment an over confident chance of success. But of course under normal ‘neoliberal’ circumstances those people would actually be encouraged to ‘find a job’ and told that a job was the way out of all their problems. Only a strictly conditional income is supposedly the way to achieve personal wellbeing.
Here we see that, on the contrary, an unconditional income solves a lot of problems.
Furthermore, given the individual benefits, it is pretty clear that it is actually likely to reduce state expenditure on mental and physical ill-health and other poverty induced problems.
So, oh dear, even in tax and spend terms it is a win…
So I’d suggest that the important conclusion from this report is that it indicates that we are so blinded by money that our money is actually inhibiting our resources.