Germany is launching a new trial to find out how universal basic income affects the attitude and lives of those who receive it.
As part of the Pilotprojekt Grundeinkommen (Basic Income Pilot Project) study, 120 people will receive €1,200 each month for three years.
Researchers will compare their experiences with another group of 1,380 people who will not receive the cash.
It's being run by the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) and Mein Grundeinkommen (My Basic Income), a startup based in Berlin, which has been giving opportunities to people for one-year payments of €1,000 per month for six years now.
Why is it being carried out?
The aim is to gain a scientific understanding on how people's behaviour and attitudes change when they receive money regularly without conditions, reported Spiegel who interviewed DIW researcher Jürgen Schupp.
Do those who receive it become lazy, or creative? Do they shorten their working hours or give up their jobs altogether?
Do they use the extra time and money only for themselves, or do they get involved with communities for the benefit of society?
Researchers want to find 1 million applicants by November. A total of 20,000 people will be randomly selected and extensively interviewed about their life situation.
From that group, 1,500 people will be selected for the three-year income experiment. A total of 120 will receive the basic income and 1,380, who will not get money, will form the comparison group.
It is scheduled to kick off next spring.
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Schupp said the research group wants to discover how a “reliable, unconditional flow of money affects people’s attitudes and behaviour”.
He said: “We are the first to examine the basic income in this way and at this level.”
Academics want a real mix of people to take part.
Schupp said it was important that some people in the sample are “rather negative towards the basic income, so as not to distort the results from the outset”.
What value will the study have to society?
Schupp said the current debate on basic income is currently not really based on hard evidence. The study aims to provide “empirically proven knowledge” to aid the debate on introducing universal basic income.
“Opponents claim that with a basic income people would stop working in order to lie on the couch with fast food and streaming services,” he said.
“Proponents argue that people will continue to do fulfilling work, become more creative and charitable, and save democracy. We can improve this (debate) if we replace these stereotypes with empirically proven knowledge.”
How is it being funded?
The project has already attracted 140,000 private donors. The study has also brought on board renowned scientists, including behavioural economists, psychologists and public welfare researchers.