Germany: The first basic income experiment in Germany will start in 2019

Basic income is going to be tested in Germany. The setup of the experiment will be similar to the one now ending in Finland, which means there will be an unconditional cash transfer to 250 randomly selected people among those already receiving benefits (250 others will act as the control group), and evaluate the impact in terms of labor market behavior, health and social relations.


Behind this initiative, to be initiated in May 2019, is the Sanktionsfrei organization, a non-profit managed by volunteer professionals from administration, IT-tech, communications and law. Sanktionsfrei (meaning “free from sanctions”), with headquarters in Berlin, specializes in helping sanctioned citizens by the Hartz IV social security system in Germany. It will conduct this experiment in Berlin, for a 3-year period, accepting volunteers who may apply for it through their website.


The basic income pilot, named HartzPlus, will be conducted as a scientific experiment, led by professor Rainer Wieland, from the Bergische Universität Wuppertal. The Sanktionsfrei team and professor Wieland are about to test a different approach to social security than the one applied in Germany at the moment (Hartz IV system), which has been reported as intrusive, bureaucratic and aggressive (sanctions). Those characteristics, contrary to what is considered by the system’s defenders, do not lead to increased willingness to pickup paid work (the objective of the program), but to resistance, decreased motivation and a generalized discredit in the social security system. Throughout the experiment, people will be checked for variations in mental health, life control, self-efficiency, sociopolitical values, among other indicators. No initial hypothesis will be considered; the experiment aims to offer scientifically informed insights to future social policy in Germany.


As for financing, Sanktionfrei is relying on private donors as the sole financing mechanism. Participants will receive unconditionally the amount from whatever sanctions they will be subject to by job centers (e.g.: by not responding to certain job offers or refusing to get suggested training actions); Sanktionsfrei will always try to recover the sanction money through legal action, and if it does, the participant will transfer the contested amount back to Sanktionsfrei. Otherwise, each participant gets, for the whole time period of the experiment, the full amount of their social security benefits, no questions asked.



More information at:

Tobias Kaiser, “Grundeinkommen wird in Deutschland getestet [Basic Income is tested in Germany]”, Gründerszene, December 6th 2018

André Coelho, “Finland: Going through a basic income experiment”, Basic Income News, April 20th 2018

HartzPlus website

About Andre Coelho

André Coelho has written 365 articles.

Activist. Engineer. Musician. For the more beautiful world our hearts know it's possible.

The views expressed in this Op-Ed piece are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the view of Basic Income News or BIEN. BIEN and Basic Income News do not endorse any particular policy, but Basic Income News welcomes discussion from all points of view in its Op-Ed section.


  • Jele Oppermann

    There are other, and earlier, initiatives in Germany, like this one:

  • Dear reader,
    re: Funding

    Taking the Canadian population of 30 million as the example, then if every adult received $12,000 per year that would amount to 360 billion.

    Since private banks create Canadian dollars out of nothing, then so can the government as was the case prior to 1973 by the Banque du Canada, saving interest payments of 60 billion.

    The public Banque du Canada would need to introduce new currency as the economy grows to maintain price stability. Assuming a growth rate of 2% on a GDP of 1.5 trillion that amounts to 300 billion.

    To sum up (in billions)
    (360) – Universal Basic Income
    60 – Interest payments
    300 – Price stabilisation

    This achieves both price stability, as well as full employment since the scarcity of currency is lifted leading to the expansion of economic activities to the next constraint, namely skills.

    The $360 billion is created by the country anyway.
    It is up to us to decide whether it:

    goes to the banks, or
    comes to the people.
    Currently the $360 billion per year accrues to private banks. This invisible tax is the very mechanism by which the rich become richer at our expense.

    It is access to this volcano of currency that empowers a small group to run corporations, bribe politicians, grease bureaucrats, influence courts, pollute our planet, cause wars, dispossess and enslave us.

    By contrast, money given back to the people (who produce the wealth in the first place) will be either spent stimulating the economy, or saved creating capital for growth.

    Thank you

  • Martin

    I would not say it is a real basic income experiment. The reason is the selected population is restricted to those already receiving social benefits. A true basic income experiment should mix people in all situations: employed and unemployed, working, studying or retired… whatever.

    Restrincting the experiment to the unemployed subject to government aid is a major twist conditioning the whole experience.

    I´m still waiting to see a true experiment picking a small town and including all citizens in a basic income experience.

  • Randomly picked people will limit the option to see the effects of a basic income experiment. In my opinion a basic income experiment should involve a community, Think Guy Standing put down the statistically defendable claim it should involve 1000 people. If you do it, do it well.

  • Eugene Neufeld

    Wonderful to see these experiments happening, especially eliminating means tests.
    However, the *objective* of this particular initiative leaves me in doubt. In view of increasing automation, should employment searching even be encouraged? Work is good and healthful, but is it right to push people job hunting?

  • Paul Musgrove

    Can this experiment, limited to 250 people and 3yrs, be a true representation of the behaviour that might occur within an indefinite country-wide system? – Surely not! Could we consider, abandoning the welfare state and its inherent inefficiencies and let disadvantaged persons turn to charity for assistance. I for one, would feel more charitable if I wasn’t being robbed in the name of taxation. Maybe this is not within the bounds of allowable opinion on this website.

    • Andre Coelho

      Dear Paul,

      Here all opinions are tolerated, as long as expressed with coherence and respect.

      Best regards,


      p.s. – as for basic income experiments, you are right: these can never simulate a real societal response to the introduction of basic income. However, these can give us important insights for policy calibration, when implementation is put forward.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.