“I have the impression of having won the lottery”: in Germany, citizens drawn by lot are experimenting with universal income

Receive 1,200 euros per month for three years, without conditions. This is what 122 Germans, drawn at random from among some two million volunteers, have had the chance to benefit since July 2021. Objective: to experiment with universal income in society and to overcome the debates of ideas on the question which are opposed stereotypes of all kinds. The payments are funded by donations from 181,000 contributors and the results of the experiment will be submitted to the German government in 2024.

It is the German Institute for Economic Research, in charge of the study, which set the amount at 1,200 euros so that it is just above the German poverty line. This threshold is 1,015 euros in France. “In German society, the question of a basic income has existed for a long time, but the reflections are mainly oriented on the modes of financing and not on the effects that such an income could have on the citizens”, explains the initiator. of the project, Steven Strehl at France 3 Grand-Est. He is at the origin of this experiment which he manages with his association based in Berlin ” My minimum income ”(My minimum income).

“I sleep better, I do full and much calmer nights”

This is the second initiative in this direction promoted by the Berlin private structure. A first experiment on a smaller scale took place over a year in 2017, during which 85 people received 1,000 euros per month. The device then targeted people with low incomes. In this new project, the lucky ones were chosen without income criteria. No compensation is required, it is up to everyone to see if they combine these payments with a job. The beneficiaries, people living alone and belonging to the middle class, are between 21 and 40 years old.

Among the lucky beneficiaries, France 3 Grand-Est met Elisabeth, a young woman from Baden-Württemberg, a land next to Alsace. “I have the impression of having won the lottery”, she rejoices without hesitation. Since July 2021, she has received 1,200 euros each month in addition to her salary, and this for three years. “I have noticed that I sleep better, I do full and much calmer nights,” she informs the scientists and sociologists responsible for analyzing her state of stress and the benefits of the experiment. Each participant has three interviews to carry out, one at the start, one in the middle of the course and one at the end of the course.

Fixed minimum income or income threshold?

“Over the next three years, we want to empirically study if and how the unconditional and regular payment of a sum of money that covers more than the subsistence level has an effect on the behavior of the people,” explained to l ‘AFP Jürgen Schupp, of the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), scientific manager of the project.

“I have always been thrifty” continues the young woman to our colleagues, “but there, I was able to buy myself a bike that I had dreamed of for over a year, and I was also able to make a donation to an association to help women. This gesture was very close to my heart and, thanks to the amount of money I receive each month, I was able to make a significant gesture. “She is now considering traveling, possibly to Asia, but is well aware that the experience is limited in time:” I know this is going to end in three years, so I am saving most of my life. perceive. “

The results of the experiment will be submitted to the government in place in 2024. The study will then have to make it possible in particular to determine what makes the most sense between a fixed minimum income, such as the 1,200 euros granted in this project, and a threshold of minimum income, which would simply allow all Germans never to fall below a certain income.

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