What if the state provided everyone with a basic income?

Trials around the world are about to explore what happens when people are guaranteed a minimum amount of money to live on. The radical policy could reinvent our relationship to work.

basicincome

Originally published in BBC Future, 18 January 2017. 

This month Finland is embarking on a radical economic experiment. Its government is giving 2,000 people free money for two years, guaranteeing them a minimum income. The participants – selected at random from people receiving welfare – will each get 560 euros ($600) a month and they will continue to receive the money even if they get a job.

The Finnish trial is the largest of a number of experiments looking at what happens when you give every citizen a guaranteed income – a policy known as universal basic income. “We hope that basic income will give these people a sense of financial security and the opportunity to plan ahead for their lives,” says Marjukka Turunen at Kela, Finland’s social insurance agency, which is running the trial.

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