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Universal Basic Income Program in Finland Improved Participants' Well-Being

Why Global Citizens Should Care
With the coronavirus pandemic leading to widespread unemployment and poverty, a universal basic income could help alleviate these problems and combat extreme poverty. The United Nations has made eliminating extreme poverty its number one global goal for sustainable development. You can join us in taking action on this and related issues here.

A universal basic income (UBI) policy in Finland has been found to improve recipients' "mental well-being, confidence, and life satisfaction," according to the Guardian.

The policy is part of a larger trend of renewed interest in UBIs, especially in recent weeks, as a potential remedy for the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The basic income recipients were more satisfied with their lives and experienced less mental strain than the control group," the study concluded, according to the Guardian. "They also had a more positive perception of their economic welfare."

Further, the UBI did not have an adverse impact on people seeking jobs, Business Insider reported. However, other basic income researchers have criticized the study, claiming that there are serious flaws in the experiment’s design.

In the experiment, which was carried out in 2017 through 2018, 2,000 randomly selected unemployed people between 25 and 58 years old were given $600 a month, Business Insider reported.

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The study’s results could be evidence for and against UBI, depending on one’s political preferences, Professor Helena Blomberg-Kroll, the study’s lead, told the Guardian.

"While basic income can’t solve all our health and societal problems, there is certainly a discussion to be had that it could be part of the solution in times of economic hardship," she added.

"I think it would bring people security in very insecure situations when they don’t know whether they’re going to have an income," said Minna Ylikännö of the Social Insurance Institution of Finland, which took part in the study, according to New Scientist.

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The economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have been drastic. The World Bank projects that it could lead to an increase in global poverty for the first time in 20 years. This has prompted governments to give consideration to UBI programs as a way to alleviate the economic fallout.

The Spanish government announced in April that it would roll out UBI "as soon as possible," and Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has said that "the time has come" for UBI in the country.

UBI has also been found to have a positive impact in Canada and could fight climate change and extreme poverty, two of the United Nations' Global Goals.