Finland, the country that gave the world the sauna, is now experimenting with another act of radical generosity. On January 1, it became the first European country to give unemployed citizens a “basic income” — a no-strings-attached monthly payment meant to cover the basic costs of living.
The Guardian reports that it will be a two-year trial of 2,000 Finns randomly selected that are currently receiving unemployment benefits. These 25- to 58-year-olds will receive the equivalent of $587 a month, replacing their previously in place social benefits and paid out if they gain employment. Ideally, these funds will help recipients sidestep the so-called “welfare cliff,” where recipients avoid taking on higher-income jobs for fear of losing public support, a danger that’s present not just in Finland but (very much) in the U.S.