HELSINKI, Finland, Dec. 7 (UPI) — Finland is considering paying every adult citizen about $860 a month at the cost of shutting down all established social benefits.
A proposal by the Finnish Social Insurance Institute, or KELA, would create a tax-free universal basic income in an attempt to encourage people to seek employment. Unemployment in Finland is currently at record levels and many people do not seek low-wage, temporary employment because they may lose welfare benefits.
More than 10 percent of Finland’s workforce is unemployed. Youth unemployment stands at nearly 23 percent.
KELA conducted a poll indicating 69 percent of Finns support the idea of a national basic income. The proposal would cost the Finnish government about $56 billion a year if implemented fully. A pilot stage will be observed, during which the basic income payout would be nearly $600 and some benefits would remain in effect.
Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipilä said he supports the idea of a basic income that will be “simplifying the social security system.”
The proposal will be submitted in November 2016 when the government will make a final decision on the plan. Finland has a population of about 5.4 million people and a gross domestic product of $267 billion ($49,000 GDP per capita).