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Universal basic income. It is an idea many critics hoped would “die” in 2016. But with a number of countries and NGOS piloting UBI projects for the first time in 2017, it is probably not going anywhere for a while.
Basic income is unconditional money regularly paid by the government to all citizens regardless of whether they work.
This month, Finland became the first country in the world to take this experiment to the national level. Two thousand randomly selected unemployed people were notified in December that they will be receiving 560 euros. That's about $590 untaxed funds each month for the next two years, even if they get a job.
Supporters of basic income come from all sides of the political spectrum, as do its opponents. Kela, Finland’s social insurance institution, says the goal is to promote employment because recipients will not be penalised for getting a job as some welfare recipients do now. Critics say UBI will remove the incentive to find work.
Regions in Canada, the Netherlands and the US state of California are just some places where small basic income pilots have launched, or are planning to launch. Non-governmental organisations have been testing the development plan for years. So why are so many governments looking to explore it on a larger scale?
We will look at the impact of these experiments to find out whether UBI could or should become a sustainable reality.
In this episode of The Stream, we speak with:
Marjukka Turunen @MarjukkaTurunen
Head of Legal Unit, Kela
Co-Founder, Basic Income Earth Network