Finland, Finland flags
Finnish flags fly at half-mast outside City Hall in Hyvinkaa May 26, 2012 [Representational Image].Reuters

Finland, the far north European nation may just become the first country to provide basic income to its citizens. 

As part of a unique experiment, the Finnish government has decided to give basic income of Euro 650 (approx Rs 46, 257) to unemployed citizens in a bid to boost employment, cut government red tape and reduce poverty, the Guardian reported. 

Also read: Switzerland considers paying $2,500 per month to every citizen

Starting from January 1, the government will pick up a random sample of 2,000 people (as part of the experiment) who would get the basic income with no caveats for a trial period of two years. 

Olli Kangas, from the Finnish government agency KELA, who designed the experiment said "it is highly interesting to see how it makes people behave. Will this lead them to boldly experiment with different kinds of jobs? Or as some critics claim, make them lazier with the knowledge of getting a basic income without doing anything?" 

Additionally, a report by Fastcoexist quoted Kangas stating three reasons for conducting the experiment:

  • Perhaps it would increase the number of Finns working temporarily or part-time.
  • People may try to make more money above the government allowance.
  • Finnish government wants to reduce bureaucracy. 

The idea of a guaranteed basic income is gaining attention worldwide. According to media reports, cities in the Netherlands, Canada are planning pilot projects. The concept has also received support from the political spectrum of the US.

On the flip side, the Finnish trade unions might get upset if the basic income pay is relatively higher (since it tends to rely on contributions from workers). Secondly, it may make people lazier, who may opt to not work at all, Fastcoexist added.

Here are five reasons why Finland is perhaps the best country to live in: 

1. Finland besides planning a free income, also has an established a pension plan, sick insurance, employee pension and employment insurance schemes.
2. The country has family aid system (providing child care facilities and child maintenance allowance).
3. It also provides welfare measures such as assistance of specialists to provide health and medical care for the elderly and bedridden.
4. Special accommodation, prosthetics option for the disabled.
5. Facility and counselling services for alcoholics and emergency houses to offer withdrawal treatment for those battling alcoholism.