OBITUARY: Helmut Pelzer, inventor of Ulmer Model for Basic Income, dies at 90

Prof. Dr. Helmut Pelzer, Professor Emeritus of Pharmacology at the University of Ulm, has passed away on July 14, aged 90. Pelzer is remembered as the inventor of the Ulmer Model, a mathematical model for calculating the design of a basic income.

In the 1990s, Pelzer’s work inspired research on basic income among faculties at the University of Ulm. The Ulmer model, which he developed in 1996, continues to influence the German basic income movement, especially the Initiative Grundeinkommen Ulm of which Pelzer was a founding member. To date, 15 scientific papers have been published citing the model.

Dr. Pelzer was also a member of the scientific advisory board of BIEN’s German affiliate, Netzwerk Grundeinkommen, and B(I)ENEFACTOR of BIEN.

His passing was announced on the Facebook page of Initiative Grundeinkommen Ulm, which posted the following note:

Shortly after his 90th Birthday (12 March 2017), the founding father of Initiative Grundeinkommen Ulm, Prof. Dr. Helmut Pelzer, slept peacefully this morning.

We will carry on his legacy by ensuring that his work gains more and more support in the 21th year of his “scientific justification for financing and realizing an unconditional basic income according to the mathematical-based Ulmer Model.”  

Ute Fischer, Sascha Liebermann, and Thomas Loer have published an extended obituary on the blog of the initiative founded by Liebermann, Freiheit statt Vollbeschäftigung (“Freedom instead of Full Employment”), which can be read in full here.

Lauding Pelzer’s contributions to the basic income discussion, the three social science researchers note the uniquely versatile design of the Ulm Model: “In contrast to other calculations, Helmut Pelzer’s marginal transfer model was based on variable parameters. This makes the model particularly adaptable to design requirements, not only in Germany, but in the whole EU.”

Netzwerk Grundeinkommen also posted a short obituary on its website, concluding, “The Basic Income Movement as well as our Network mourn a scientist who fought passionately for the idea and proposal of a Basic Income.”

Thanks to Albert Jörimann and Ronald Heinrich for information and translation assistance.

Photo: University of Ulm, CC BY-SA 3.0 Jürgen Lehle