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Finland Will End Its Experiment With Universal Basic Income After a Two-Year Trial

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Finland has decided not to extend its trial in universal basic income, the first welfare experiment of its kind by a European government that gave citizens an unconditional monthly payment.

The government rejected a request from Kela, the country’s social security agency, for additional funding to expand the innovative two-year pilot program, meaning it will come to an end in January 2019, the Guardian reports.

The program, which Finland inaugurated in January 2017, saw 2,000 jobless people receive €560 ($685) per month without requiring them to work or seek employment. Recipients who found a job continued to receive the payments. In 2015, Finland’s unemployment rate had hit a 17-year high of 10%, prompting calls for welfare reform.

But in December 2017, the Finnish parliament introduced legislation requiring jobless people to work at least 18 hours every three months to qualify for unemployment benefits, signaling that the welfare regime could be shifting in the opposite direction.

Read more: Universal Basic Income: How It Works

Advocates of universal basic income (UBI) programs, which have become more popular in recent years, argue that guaranteeing a baseline pay for adult citizens can help alleviate social issues like crime, poverty and chronic unemployment. But critics contend that UBI programs are costly and ineffective. Other countries including Holland, Canada, and Kenya have also experimented with basic income schemes.

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Write to Eli Meixler at eli.meixler@time.com