Preliminary results from Finland’s basic income experiment … social “science” is hard

Finland is conducting an experiment where they took a random sample of young-and-unemployed and long-term-unemployed people (2,000 in total) and provided them a small, basic income, not tied to their social benefits (i.e., if they got a low wage job, the wages would not count against their basic support, as most such current systems do). There were many things many people expected, but one of the hopes was that these people would be more encouraged to take lower-paying jobs, because they wouldn’t risk losing their benefit. These results are only preliminary (they only include the first year’s data, not the full two years the experiment has thus far been going), but … no such luck. However, a) they changed the social rules for their control group, thus losing their scientific control; and b) fewer than 20% of the people in the control group responded to the survey to measure results (and only 31% of the variable group). Social science is hard, but it looks like an extra €500/month isn’t enough to encourage people to take low-end jobs. This should not be surprising. However, the experiment continues. Let’s check back in another year.

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