There has been much discussion around universal income. The concept has been floating around and many politicians parade the idea in the hope of securing a voter base. The idea of receiving free checks each month whether you work or not is interesting to say the least. Some people believe that those who struggle to make ends meet, will use the “free money” in order to start working and earn even more.
There is also an ongoing discussion in the United States about the possibilities of such a system. Whether or not the people who are part of the program are working is still up for debate. In order to really look at the possible results however, we need to look at a country who has already tried implanting such policies and see the results.
Finland decided to give the system a go and the results are clearly not what most people expected. Universal basic income was implemented in the country in order to help low-income Finnish citizens. Participants in the program received money from the government even if they were not currently employed.
The adoption of the program began in 2017 and the results are a mixture of pluses and minuses.
Monthly payments equal to $634 were provided to all participants from January 2017 to December 2018. The main goal was to see if the payments would become a safety net for the participants who were unable to find employment. People who were actively looking a higher-paying job were mostly satisfied with the program.
Universal income does not come cheap
The whole program cost the Finnish government roughly $22.7 million. There was however, absolutely no positive effect on Finland’s employment rate. Employment levels did not improve at all, but a large part of the participants stated that they felt less stressed. Needless to say, people who lost their jobs are not employed again.
This is a clear warning that universal basic income should not be used as a means to fix unemployment. Free money doesn’t work as incentive to the unemployed to seek employment. As any sane person would conclude, there is no point in working if you are about to get paid anyway.
Finnish citizens had mixed opinions about the universal income system. Some found no greater joy than earning their own money and they mostly enjoyed to work. Others were praising the stress relief that some people received from not working.
In many cases, experts have found that depression and stress are very often byproducts of the work environment. Last year the World Health Organization (WHO), released a report claiming that more than 300 million people globally can be diagnosed with depression.
Some experts believe that with the undiagnosed patients or people suffering from mild forms of depression, that number may very well go over 1 billion. This is roughly 1/6th of the entire world population.
If universal income can indeed help reduce the stress that some people feel from work, it should be considered more seriously.
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