The current debate on unconditional basic income in Germany is often dominated by personal opinions and clichés and is seldom based on robust scientific knowledge, as there have been no generalizable scientific studies on this subject in the German context up to now. Studies in other countries such as Finland provide initial insights, but many of these are out of date or focus on specific population groups. The Basic Income Pilot Project aims to change that.
As the first long-term study on unconditional basic income in Germany, the Basic Income Pilot Project will start in mid-August 2020 with the aim of sparking empirically-grounded debate and setting new standards through the implementation of randomized control trials in the field of basic income. It is a joint project of the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) and the Mein Grundeinkommen association, and is being carried out in cooperation with researchers at the University of Cologne and the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods. The study is financed by around 140,000 private donors.
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Pressekonferenz zum Start des Pilotprojekts Grundeinkommen
In the first phase, beginning in mid-August 2020, 1,500 subjects will be recruited for the long-term study, 120 of whom will be randomly selected to receive 1,200 euros a month for three years—unconditionally. The remaining 1,380 study participants will serve as a comparison group to ensure that changes observed in the study are in fact due to the basic income.
Participants in the pilot project—the motto of which is “We want to know”—do not have to demonstrate need and are free to earn as much as they want in addition to the basic income. The amount of basic income that participants receive is determined with reference to the poverty line: The basic income lies above the minimum level of income that is deemed adequate for basic physical needs and participation in social life.
Anyone who is a permanent resident of Germany and is at least 18 years of age may apply to participate in the study. Applicants must complete an online questionnaire providing contact information, gender, the number of people in the household, the number of children in the household, and some additional information about the applicant’s overall life situation, such as educational attainment, net income, and any social benefits received.
The study will begin as soon as either one million people have applied to participate in the study at www.pilotprojekt-grundeinkommen.de, or on November 10, 2020, with those who have registered up to that point. The large number of applicants is necessary because data quality is improved substantially if the base population from which participants are selected is as large and diverse as possible.
The basic income will be paid starting in spring of 2021. Over the course of the three-year study, each participant will complete six online questionnaires that include questions about employment, time use, consumer behavior, values, and health.