Rush to the basic income

The interest in the Unconditional Basic Income project is enormous: More than 1.5 million people want to take part.

Money rain for everyone?  That is what proponents of the unconditional basic income wish.

1200 euros per month for three years – unconditional and tax-free. The “Basic Income Pilot Project” is thus attractive. Since last Tuesday, interested parties have been able to apply for the study, which is to begin in spring 2021 under the leadership of the German Institute for Economic Research.

Originally there were 120 places available, all of which are financed through private donations. Lo and behold: the rush is huge. By Monday morning, more than one and a half million people had applied.

And with a view to the financial resources of the project, something has happened: As the initiators announced, there is now money for two more participants.

Lots of opponents and supporters

The project was initiated by the Berlin association “Mein Grundeinkommen”. In addition to the recipients of the income, there should be a control group of 1380 people who do not receive any money. The initiators hope to find out what effects the basic income will have.

Experts doubt the informative value. The criticism: First, a time-limited experiment says little about a permanent unconditional basic income. Second, it can be assumed that mainly those who sympathize with the idea will respond. And thirdly, a study with only 120 test persons would have little informative value anyway. The reason for the comparatively small number of participants is obvious. Even so, the project already costs the initiators around 1.7 million euros a year.

The basic income has many supporters and opponents. Critics say that such an achievement reduces the incentive to take up a job and costs too much money to the community. In purely mathematical terms, a basic income of 1,000 euros for almost 83 million German citizens would cost almost one trillion euros a year. Both Federal Labor Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) and SPD Chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz recently spoke out against the idea.

The German experiment is not the first of its kind: Similar experiments in Finland and Canada, however, did not produce the expected value.

The initiators of the project still hope to gain a great deal of knowledge. “Our study works according to the scientific gold standard and will for the first time provide reliable and representative basic findings for part of the population,” said Michael Bohmeyer, initiator of “My Basic Income”, the FAS

Of course, the study is not perfect. But it is a valuable step in knowledge. “The criticism bores us. We prefer to start and research instead of agitating. “