Germany is launching its first experiment with universal basic income this week with a new trial that will put about $1,400 per month into the pockets of 120 people for the next three years to see whether the security net of a steady cash flow improves their well-being.
The study, which is conducted by the German Institute for Economic Research, will give 120 Germans a monthly payment just over that of the country’s poverty line, while an additional 1,380 people taking part will not receive any payments, according to The Times of London.
Both groups will reportedly have to fill out regular questionnaires about their lives, including what they do in their free time and their emotional states.
The study is funded by donations from about 140,000 people through a lobbying group called Mein Grundeinkommen, which supports universal basic income, Business Insider reported.
Those who organized the trial said its goal is to help provide further information to contribute to the debate of whether universal basic income should be implemented; some argue that it helps people live better lives, while others believe it could deter people from working.
“The debate about the basic income so far has been like a philosophical salon in good moments and a war of faith in bad times,” Jürgen Schupp, who is leading the study, told German newspaper Der Spiegel, according to Business Insider. “It is — on both sides — shaped by clichés: Opponents claim that with a basic income people would stop working in order to dull on the couch with fast food and streaming services. Proponents argue that people will continue to do fulfilling work, become more creative and charitable, and save democracy.”
Schupp continued: “Incidentally, these stereotypes also flow into economic simulations as assumptions about the supposed costs and benefits of a basic income… We can improve this if we replace these stereotypes with empirically proven knowledge and can therefore lead a more appropriate debate.”
Though the experiment is a first for Germany, other countries have attempted similar trials.
From January 2017 to December 2018, Finland gave a group of unemployed citizens a monthly payment of about $634 to see if it helped them find jobs, according to the BBC.
Results reportedly found that employment levels did not improve, but people said they felt happier and less stressed.