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"Those who like the idea of basic income should embrace 'muddling through'"

2019-01-15

In the picture from the left, Ilinka Benson, SNS, at stage with Andreas Bergh, IFN, and Minna Ylikännö, the Finnish Social Security Administration.

On Monday, the Centre for Business and Policy Studies SNS, organized a seminar on basic income, also called citizen's salary (medborgarlön). Andreas Bergh, IFN and Lund University, presented the background to the public debate and the various arguments – for and against. Minna Ylikännö, a researcher at the Finnish Social Security Administration, presented a Finnish experiment with basic income (in the case of unemployment) recently concluded but still not evaluated. Bergh suggested that a person who thinks that basic income is something useful should embrace “muddling through”, that is, change today's systems step by step by way of trivial reforms.

2019-01-14 Andreas Bergh SNS1.jpgAndreas Bergh, IFN and Lund University, commenced the seminar with a description of the public debate on basic income/citizen's salary.

 

Andreas Bergh suggested that municipalities, on a trial basis, pay lower benefits but without any requirement.

– And learn from the results, he said.

He suggested a test with lower unemployment benefits (A-kassa) for a limited time, without the requirement to, for example, participate in Employment Service's classes, and see what impact this would have on employment.

Based on existing problems in the system, Bergh advised:

– Find solutions to problems in the existing system through minor reforms.

He gave three concrete examples where reforms can be identified:

  • The incentives to work today are weak for recipients of financial aid.
  •  It is unclear what is meant by "urgent emergency" (akut nödläge), as recorded in the law, in particular for non-citizens. The Social Services assess this on a case-by-case basis. For example, if someone is homeless.
  • The unemployment fund is used both as insurance and a safety net.

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