On Jan. 1, Finland began a social experiment to give €560 a month to the unemployed. It will last two years and will involve 2,000 out-of-work citizens chosen from among those who receive unemployment benefits.
The first of its kind in Europe, the Finnish experiment aims to reduce poverty, to increase the rate of employment and to measure the economic and social effects of an unconditional payout from the state. Beneficiaries will not have to justify the way they spend their money. The sum will be deducted from any further subsidies received.
The basic salary will be maintained, however, even if the recipient finds a job. One of the main problems among the unemployed Finns, says Olli Kangas, director of the governmental agency that deals with welfare, is the fear that accepting a job may cost them subsidies and benefits provided by generous welfare state. The unemployed often refuse low-wage and temporary jobs.