Majority of Finns reject universal basic income, study says
A large majority of Finns reject the establishment of a basic income for citizens, similar to what was tested in Finland for two years.
That is one of the remarkable conclusions of a survey conducted by the business think-tank EVA. The study consisted of more than 2,000 interviews carried out throughout the country last autumn, while the two-year basic income experiment was still going on.
According to EVA's 2018 Value and Attitude Survey, 60% of Finns believe that the access to social security benefits should be based on specific needs rather than in a basic income for everyone without a reason.
In that sense, the think-tank believes that Finns prefer a cause-based social security. This means, according to the authors of the study, that there should be always a well defined reason for receiving public support, such as unemployment, low income, illness, parenting or studying.
27% support the idea
EVA says only over a quarter of the population (27%) support unconditionally the idea of establishing a Universal Basic Income (UBI) that would be paid to all adults for the sole reason of existing.
For a period of two years, between 1 January 2017 and 31 December 2018, Finland tested the suitability of establishing an UBI. The experiment was carried out on a population of 2,000 non-voluntary people randomly selected, who received a monthly basic income of 560 euros.
Participants got this sum automatically every month, regardless of whether they had some other income or not, without any needs of assessment, and with no conditions attached. They were allowed to work and even to star their own businesses while receiving the money. Furthermore, they were not required to pay taxes on basic income.
In February 2019, the Finnish Government made public the preliminary results of this experiment. According to that provisional assessment, the UBI did not increase the employment level of the participants during the first year, but most beneficiaries experienced less stress, they were happier and perceived their well being improved.
Benefits linked to activity
The survey conducted by EVA also shows that 67% of Finns think that social security benefits are sometimes received by people who may not actually need them. And this view is common to all demographic groups, with little difference between men (68%) and women (66%). The study shows that nearly half of the voters of the Left Alliance (42%), Swedish People's party (47%) and the Green Party (35%) support this idea.
EVA also says a majority of Finns (55%) believe that social security benefits must be modernized and streamlined. And 73% support that beneficiaries must prove some activity. For example, the recipients of labour market subsidy should, in exchange for the benefit, seek employment, and the students should complete their studies.
The results of this study are based on 2,007 responses. The error rate for the population as a whole is between 2 and 3 percentage points in each direction. The data was collected between 24 September and 4 October 2018. The respondents represent the entire population of the country aged 18-70.
EVA is a business think-tank that aims to promote the long-term success of Finnish society. For that reason, it provides information and proposes reforms to policy makers.