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Finland tests a new form of welfare

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Mr Jarvinen, benched too long

JUHA JARVINEN, an unemployed young father in a village near Jurva, in western Finland, brims with ideas for earning a living. He has just agreed to paint the roofs of two neighbours’ houses. His old business, making decorative window frames, went bust a few years ago. Having paid off debts, he recently registered another, to produce videos for clients.

Mr Jarvinen says that for six years he hoped to start a new business but it was impossible. The family got by on his wife’s wages as a nurse, plus unemployment and child benefits. He had a few job offers from local businesses, which are mainly in forestry, furniture and metalwork. But anything less than a permanent, well-paid post made no sense, since it would jeopardise his welfare payments. To re-enroll for benefits later would be painfully slow.

Mr Jarvinen’s luck turned in January, when he was picked at random from Finland’s unemployed (10% of the…Continue reading

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