Estonia: maximum 5% would quit job with BI of 435 euros

QUESTION: Let’s imagine a hypotetical situation where the state would pay money for people and everyone could also quit the job. Would you agree to quit your job and if yes, how much would you then wish to get money from the state?

Amount per month

% % of people with opinion % of all, except
not working
Until 200 € 0 0 0
201 – 300 € 0 0 0
301 – 400 € 2 2,6 2,4
401 – 500 € 3 3,8 3,6
501 – 650 € 5 6,4 6,0
651 – 800 € 7 9,0 8,4
801 – 1000 € 9 11,5 10,8
1001 – 1300 € 8 10,3 9,6
1301-1600 € 5 6,4 6,0
Over 1600 € 9 11,5 10,8
I wish to continue work anyway 30 38,5 36,1
I don’t have job, I am retired 17
I don’t know 5 6,0
Calculation method %/78*100 %/83*100

Estonian Institute of Social Researches along with poll agency Turu-uuringute AS made the first poll ever on Basic Income in Estonia this Summer. However, the Basic Income idea itself was not defined nor mentioned anyhow in the poll question. It was just aimed to learn a possible work behaviour – on which unconditional income from the state people would agree to quit their job. Here are the results. 

Totally there was 48% ready to stay home at different levels of free money. 30% of responders would anyway continue working. 5% had no opinion, 17% were retired people and others who didn’t have any job anyway and therefore couldn’t answer.

Press-release issued by the institute took in account only those responders who expressed some opinion (78% of all responders). Therefore we saw some differences between the original figures and those in press-release. Both figures are compared here in added data table (see the percent column in the middle). The press-release itself was also messy and misinterpreting (and even furthermore misinterpreted by media), but this is not the issue of this article.

Looking only at the people with opinion (78%=100%) we see that 38,5% of them strictly disagree to quit job while 61,5 % would agree to stay home depending on the amount of money from state.

But how many people at which amounts? Regarding the idea of Basic Income this is of course the most interesting question.

To make half of agreeing people stay home Estonian state should pay them 950 euros per month (however, many of them would agree also with lower “compensation”, even with 301-400 euros). Nobody would agree to leave job when receiving unconditionally 300 euros or less. The rest are more “expensive”, every 3rd of them would never agree for staying home less than 1600 euros per month.

This time people was asked for which amount they would agree to stay home (“agree” means in other words “OK, if this is so needed and if you pay well, then I can leave my job, although I rather wouldn’t want to”) Unfortunately, this doesn’t show how much of people would surely stay home when receiving an unconditional income.

In Estonia, the basic income activists have spoken about different possible amounts for UBI. However, nobody believes that such level as 950 euros per month could be this time affordable for the state. Therefore people offered smaller amounts. For example some kind of fair principle that the basic income should be equal at least to the amount of money spent by state to each prisoner (without job costs). Last year it was 538,33 euros per month. From other part there is mentioned a possible amount 435 euros per month proposed by Portugese activists as probably affordable for their country. Economical figures like GDP per capita in Estonia and Portugal are very close.

Let’s see both amounts in the light of the poll results assuming that the people who are ready to agree with smaller amounts are agreeing also with bigger money.

If the unconditional money from state would be 538,33 euros then maximally 10 % of all responders or 12,8 % of working people with opinion agrees to quit job (see the range 501 – 650 € and smaller ranges. For 435 euros (range 401 – 500 €) there would be twice fewer people staying home (respectively 5 or 6,4 %). And, as said, different approaches could be represented there – some of them would stay home anyway, others would change their activities (included trying to be enterpreneur) or decrease their working time to be more committed to their family.

An earlier, EU-wide poll has shown that if the citizens of EU would be paid unconditionally enough to have basic needs satisfied, then only 4% of them are expecting to quit their job. At the same time, there were over ten times more the people who believed that many other people (not themselves, of courseI would surely stop to working.

The results of Estonian poll don’t give the full imagination about possible job behaviour of Estonians. But in the spotlight of an existing data it seems that the results there could not be dramatical difference between Estonian and EU poll results.