Should proponents of basic income advocate basic income social experiments in Germany?

Terwitte, Johannes


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Dokumentart: Bericht / Forschungsbericht / Abhandlung
Institut: Hertie School of Governance
Schriftenreihe: Working papers // Hertie School of Governance
Bandnummer: 46
Sprache: Englisch
Erstellungsjahr: 2009
Publikationsdatum: 22.01.2013
Originalveröffentlichung: (2009)
SWD-Schlagwörter: Mindestlohn , Deutschland , Sozialpolitik , Experiment , Hochschulschrift
DDC-Sachgruppe: Statistik
Sondersammelgebiete: 3.6 Politik und Friedensforschung

Kurzfassung auf Englisch:

Unconditional basic income (BI) is a proposal to reform social welfare provision under which every member of society would be entitled to an income above subsistence level without means test or work requirement. The advantages of BI are that it effectively reduces poverty and increases the real freedom of citizens. However, by abolishing the necessity to work on the individual level BI policies are also inherently risky since they fundamentally change incentive structures. It is clearly possible that BI is fiscally infeasible in this sense that not enough people would engage in productive efforts on the basis of which a BI could then be distributed. Social science is to date unable to say how likely an outcome this is. From the perspective of BI supporters this state of affairs is suboptimal since the burden of proof on the feasibility of BI is widely perceived to fall on them. Basic income social experiments (BISE) are a very useful tool for meeting this strategic challenge. This is, firstly, because they are the best available method for generating knowledge on the consequences of a radically new programme such as BI. However, despite all methodological sophistication the social sciences can reduce but never eliminate the uncertainty regarding the consequences of BI, including fiscal feasibility. Secondly, BISE are useful because they help to overcome the discursive impasse which results from the fundamental lack of knowledge. BISE would help to move the currently stuck debate and – most importantly – show great promise for shifting the burden of proof back to the defendants of the status quo. Lastly, this paper finds ethical objections to BISE to be insubstantial and ascertains the feasibility of BISE in the German context. It hence concludes that proponents of basic income should advocate basic income social experiments in Germany.

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