Germany is about to become the latest country to trial a universal basic income, starting a three-year study of how it affects the economy and recipients’ well-being.
As part of the study, 120 people will receive €1,200, or about $1,430, each month for three years — an amount just above Germany’s poverty line — and researchers will compare their experiences with another group of 1,380 people who will not receive the payments.
The study, conducted by the German Institute for Economic Research, has been funded by 140,000 private donations.
All participants will be asked to complete questionnaires about their lives, work, and emotional state to see whether a basic income has had a significant impact. Universal basic income is the idea that a government should pay a lump sum of money to each of its citizens, usually once a month, regardless of their income or employment status, effectively replacing means-tested benefits.
Its proponents argue that it would reduce inequality and improve well-being by providing people more financial security. Its opponents say it would be too expensive and discourage people from going to work. The idea has gained traction in recent years amid financial crises and growing inequality in some Western countries.
Jürgen Schupp, who is leading the study, told the German newspaper Der Spiegel that it would improve the debate about universal basic income by producing new scientific evidence.