In February, the first report came out from Finland’s groundbreaking experiment in universal basic income, which gave 560 euros to 2,000 randomly selected unemployed people. The report showed receiving free money made recipients happier without making them any less likely to join the workforce. Although this wasn’t everything the Finnish government was hoping for — its stated goal was to boost employment — it still offered an important counter to critics of basic income, who often claim getting free money will induce people to work less. The evidence does not support that.
The second report from Finland’s landmark experiment revealed that recipients of the free income reported less stress than the control group. That was true even for recipients who felt they were struggling to make ends meet. The recipients also reported that they felt more trust towards other people and social institutions—from political parties to the police to the courts—than they did before getting a basic income. It may seem intuitive that getting a guaranteed, regular infusion of cash will make people happier and less stressed (even if that cash isn’t enough to cover all their needs). But that’s kind of the point: This is a pretty obvious way to increase citizens’ well-being, yet most countries aren’t doing it.