OECD Economics Department Working Papers

Working papers from the Economics Department of the OECD that cover the full range of the Department’s work including the economic situation, policy analysis and projections; fiscal policy, public expenditure and taxation; and structural issues including ageing, growth and productivity, migration, environment, human capital, housing, trade and investment, labour markets, regulatory reform, competition, health, and other issues.

The views expressed in these papers are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the OECD or of the governments of its member countries.

English, French

Benefit reform for employment and equal opportunity in Finland

The combination of different working-age benefits, childcare costs and income taxation creates complexity, reduces work incentives and holds back employment. Major disincentives in Finland are related to tapering rules for unemployment benefits, social assistance and the housing benefit, the extended unemployment benefit for older workers, the childcare fee structure and the homecare allowance. Improved benefit design combined with efficient activation policies can reduce complexity and remove the strongest disincentives while minimising adverse fiscal and social impacts. Replacing current benefits with a basic income would improve incentives for many, but with a drastic redistribution of income and likely increasing poverty as a result. Merging working-age benefits with similar aims and coordinating their tapering against earnings would on the other hand consistently improve work incentives and transparency, while preserving social protection. Once the new income registry comes online, linking benefit payments to real-time incomes, combined with strengthened work incentives, would make for a truly efficient and inclusive benefit system, fit for the future of work.

This Working Paper relates to the 2018 OECD Economic Survey of Finland



Keywords: inequality, welfare reform, universal credit, basic income, Finland, work incentives
JEL: H53: Public Economics / National Government Expenditures and Related Policies / Government Expenditures and Welfare Programs; H55: Public Economics / National Government Expenditures and Related Policies / Social Security and Public Pensions; J38: Labor and Demographic Economics / Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs / Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs: Public Policy; D3: Microeconomics / Distribution
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