UBI in Europe

From September 25, 2020 to September 25, 2021 the Citizens’ Initiative ECI-UBI 2020 will be implemented across the EU, which aims to introduce unconditional basic income throughout the European Union, that is, in all 27 countries with a population of about half a billion people. If during this period 1 million votes are cumulatively collected and at least 7 EU countries reach their signature quotas, the European Commission will be obliged to consider the initiative.

The authors of the initiative believe that the basic income “will ensure the material existence of each person and the ability to participate in society within the framework of its economic policy.

In the first month, almost 60 thousand applications in support of the European initiative were received. Again, as in the last time, the leader was Slovenia, which collected almost 80% of the required number of applications. Greece, Germany, Hungary and Spain come next with a significant gap. These countries have achieved between 23% and 28% of the quotas, or about a quarter. Estonia and Bulgaria have about 14% of their quotas. Slovakia, Lithuania, Poland, and Malta received the least number of applications, with only 7 applications in support of basic income.

In 2013-2014, a similar initiative collected fewer than 300,000 signatures from more than 25 EU countries. But 6 countries reached their signature quotas. These are Bulgaria, Slovenia, Croatia, Belgium, the Netherlands and Estonia. Another country, Hungary, came close to reaching theirs.

Austria

The Generation Grundeinkommen basic income movement is active in Austria. The goal of the movement is to introduce unconditional basic income throughout the EU.

In January 2020, a referendum request was submitted to the Federal Ministry of the Interior with the title: “Ensure an unconditional basic income!”. The request was granted.

A national referendum is currently underway. By no later than the end of the year 2021 all eligible voters can support the demand for unconditional basic income (BGE) at any municipal office in Austria or online with a cell phone signature.

Armenia

Armenia has a political party, the Armenian Creation Council, which is the first in the world to introduce into its ideology the 8 foundations of the Creation Society, the society of tomorrow. The third pillar of the Creative Society is “Security”, a broad concept that includes human economic security, which implies payment of an unconditional basic income as the basis for providing basic human needs.

Belgium

Belgian philosopher Philippe Van Pareis is the founder of the European Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN), which became a worldwide network in 2004. He co-authored with Belgian economist Yannick Vanderborcht the book “Basic Income. A Radical Project for a Free Society and a Healthy Economy.

Bulgaria

In Bulgaria, the Union for Direct Democracy party advocates the introduction of a basic income. The idea has found support from broad sections of the public and organizations, including the European Anti-Poverty Network and entrepreneur Tony Baidarov. In the first month of the European Citizens’ Initiative ECI-UBI 2020, Bulgaria scored 14% of the quota and moved into 7th place in the European Union in the share of supporters of a basic income.

Hungary

There is huge interest in the basic income in Hungary. Many political and social forces advocate its introduction:

– In 2014, the Hungarian Pirate Party proposed the introduction of a basic income, voicing the amounts of monthly payments: 50,000 forints for adults and half that for children;

– In parallel, similar statements were made by the movement for an unconditional basic income FNA;

– In 2014, the Socialist Party included basic income in its election program;

– In the same period, the Hungarian Leftist Green Party began to support a basic income;

– In February 2015, representatives of the parliamentary party Dialogue for Hungary (Párbeszéd Magyarországért) started talking about introducing a basic income. At the party congress, 90 percent of its members voted in favor of a monthly basic income of 160 euros for adults, 80 euros for children, and 240 euros for young mothers. At the same time, the established national poverty level was 830 euros for a family of four and 200 euros for an adult without a family;

– In 2018, the “First Hungarian Universal Basic Income Association” was established, actively promoting the idea of basic income in the country.

The Budapest city administration considered in 2014 the introduction of a monthly payment program of 85 euros for the least protected people. This amount was almost 15% higher than the current amount of social benefits.

Hungarian researchers have been active in research on the practical implementation of the idea of a basic income in the country. For example, in 2015 the work “Basic Income as a Transformational Realist Strategy” was published. This is the result of the work of a team of authors (Gabor Schering, Benze Tordaj and Miklós Sebek), aimed at reforming the social support system and the economy in order to minimize inequality in society and achieve sustainable economic growth.

By November 26, 2020, in two months of the European Citizens Initiative ECI-UBI 2020, Hungary scored 29% of the quota and came in 4th place in the share of basic income supporters in the European Union.

Germany

Germany is one of the most active countries in terms of implementing unconditional basic income. According to many studies (see Surveys of European Union Citizens), this country was among the leaders in support of the idea. By November 26, 2020, in the two months of the European Citizens Initiative ECI-UBI 2020, Germany had gained 33% of the quota and came in 2nd place in the percentage of supporters of a basic income in the European Union.

Discussion and Implementation

In Germany, the nonprofit My Basic Income (Mein Grundeinkommen) is active in testing the basic income action and implementing experiments through crowdfunding.

In the fall of 2016, the political party “Basic Income League” (Bündnis Grundeinkommen, BGE Partei for short) was founded. Its sole goal is the introduction of basic income in the country.

The idea is also supported by the parliamentary German Pirate Party.

The German center Dalia Research conducted extensive public opinion research in 2016 and 2017 on basic income in all EU countries.

The Freiburg Institute for Basic Income Studies (FRIBIS) was founded in the fall of 2019.

The most prominent business tycoon supporting the idea of basic income in Germany and around the world is Götz Werner – professor and founder of the dm-drogerie markt chain.

Experiments

The My Basic Income Experiment (2014-present)

From 2014 to the present, the nonprofit My Basic Income (Mein-Grundeinkommen) is conducting a basic income experiment. It is funded by crowdfunding, and participants are selected through a raffle. About 600,000 people participate in the draw every month, of whom usually 20 recipients are chosen. They receive 1,000 euros a month for one year. There is only one condition to participate in the drawing – agreeing to report their expenses.

By the end of November 2020, there were 689 participants in the experiment.

According to FastCompany, participants in the experiment report the following effects of basic income:

– Reduced anxiety levels – 80%;

– A sense of confidence – 80%;

– A surge of energy and vigor – 81%;

– Change in attitude toward work. Now it is perceived as participation in society and benefiting people – 47%;

– Increased interest in one’s work – 35%;

– The possibility of continuing education – more than 50%;

– Increased curiosity – 60%.

Project HartzPlus (2019-2022)

In February 2019, the nonprofit Sanktionsfrei launched Project HartzPlus. It is a long-term scientific basic income study in cooperation with the University of Wuppertal from 2019 to 2022. The project is financed exclusively by private donations.

This experiment is often compared to the Finnish experiment (link to Finland). Over the course of 3 years, 250 randomly selected people receiving basic unemployment benefits will be protected from Hartz IV sanctions, which are a common state practice. Another 250 people are selected as a control group.

How does it work? All participants in the experiment unconditionally receive the cost of any sanctions imposed by the employment centers (for refusing to retrain, for not responding obligatorily to proposed activities, job openings, etc.). The organizers of the project will make every effort to challenge the sanctions in court. If successful, the participant will recover the disputed amount back. If the court is unsuccessful, the participant will unconditionally receive the full amount of their social benefits until the end of the experiment (in 2020, the amount for a married adult is 389 euros, for non-family – 432 euros).

German Institute for Economic Research project (2021-2024)

In August 2020, the collection of applications for the new basic income experiment began. It is a long-term 3-year project conducted by the German Institute for Economic Research together with the Max Planck Institute and the University of Cologne with the participation of the nonprofit organization “My Basic Income” (Mein-Grundeinkommen).

At the time of writing, the application process is closed. More than 2 million applications have been submitted. On January 12, 2021, 122 participants will be drawn who will receive 1,200 euros per month for 3 years. During this period, each participant will fill out 7 questionnaires, on the basis of which the study will be conducted. The same questionnaires will be filled out by a control group of 1380 people.

The project is funded by private donations.

Petitions

In Germany there is a large number of both official and public petitions regarding the introduction of a basic income. Official petitions are submitted electronically and involve a more complicated signing procedure requiring additional action than public petitions. Only after receiving 50,000 signatures can the author be heard by the petition committee, after which Parliament must consider the issue.

Public petitions are mostly created to get the public’s attention.

In the 2020 pandemic, support for petitions demanding a basic income increased significantly.

Record official petition!

The most popular official petition with a record number of votes (176,000 in 4 weeks) was that of Suzanne Wiest, who asked the parliament of the country in early 2020 to introduce a temporary basic income for every citizen of 1,000 euros. The payment period was proposed from 6 months, which can be extended for as long as there is a need for it. Please note: the number of collected signatures was 3.5 times higher than the required threshold for the petition. The petition was supported by Mensch in Germany, OMNIBUS für Direkte Demokratie, Mein Grundeinkommen and Expedition Grundeinkommen.

On October 26, 2020, the petition went before the Petition Committee in the Bundestag. At the time of writing, the petition is being discussed by the Committee.

Public petitions that received the most support

In 2020, designer Tony Mertz’s petition “Unconditional Basic Income during the Crown Crisis” garnered 460,000 signatures in just four weeks. The main demand was for a 6-month unconditional basic income for the categories most affected during the pandemic: artists and the self-employed. The petition also included a proviso that the circle of recipients of such an income could be expanded according to its name, i.e. provided without any conditions.

A similar petition, “Helping Freelancers and Artists During the Corona Shutdown,” came from David Ehrler and garnered 288,000 votes.

Greece

In July 2010, the Greek Parliament approved a basic pension of €360 per month. Recipients were limited to ages 15 to 65 and a condition was set: they must have lived in the country for 35 years. For those who had lived in Greece less, the amount was determined in proportion to time, and for the rest an additional condition of means-testing was introduced.
In 2012, the unconditional basic income appeared in the electoral platform of SYRIZA, the second largest political party in the Greek parliament. The platform was updated for the upcoming Greek legislative elections.

By November 26, 2020, in the two months of the European Citizens Initiative ECI-UBI 2020, Greece had gained 31% of the quota and came in 3rd place in the percentage of basic income supporters in the European Union.

Ireland

The Basic Income Ireland movement was founded back in March 1995.

For several years now, the Greens’ Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have been in favor of Basic Income.

In December 2015, Fianna Fáil promised every citizen a minimum social income above the current welfare amounts, which averaged 188 euros per week.

In 2020, the newly formed government pledged to test a basic income in Ireland over the next 5 years. The Program for Government (PfG), agreed upon by the Green, Fine Gae and Fianna Fáil parties, contains measures to fight poverty (86 page program).

By November 26, 2020, in the two months of the European Citizens Initiative ECI-UBI 2020, Ireland had gained about 3% of the quota and ranked 18th in the percentage of basic income supporters in the European Union.

Iceland

BIEN Iceland’s worldwide Basic Income Network representation was only opened in December 2016.

In 2014, the Pirate Party of Iceland submitted a statement to Congress proposing the introduction of a basic income at the national level.

In November 2015, Pirate Party deputies asked the Minister of Welfare and the Minister of Finance to create a working group to find a way to provide all citizens with a basic income.

It did not come to a practical implementation.

Spain

Discussion and implementation

The BIEN Global Basic Income Network has been in place since 2001.

In May 2014, the Spanish political party Podemos (We Can) included a basic income in its political program in the European Parliament elections and won 5 seats.

Political organizations such as the Socialist Party, Equo, Pirata, Bildu (a coalition of parties in the Basque Country), Esquerra Republicana and ICV (Iniciativa per Catalunya Verds) support the basic income idea in the country.

From January 15, 2014 to January 14, 2015, a national popular legislative initiative for the introduction of a basic income in the country, “ILP Renta Basica Universal,” which was initiated by a grassroots coalition formed in Madrid in 2013, was implemented. The initiative garnered only about 185,000 signatures out of the required half-million.

In December 2019, the Podemos party and the Socialist Party formed a coalition to provide a guaranteed income to low-income citizens in order to support the neediest part of the population.

In the spring of 2020, the national government approved a guaranteed minimum income (not to be confused with an unconditional basic income) for its citizens, to be paid starting June 1, 2020. As a result, 850,000 low-income families in Spain, which is about 2.3 million people, should receive additional payments to the established minimum. The amount of the established minimum guaranteed income varies by category and ranges from 461 euros per adult without a family to 1,015 euros for complete families with 3 children.

An Ipsos poll conducted in May 2020 showed that 56% of Spaniards supported the introduction of a basic income.

By November 26, 2020, in two months of the European Citizens Initiative ECI-UBI 2020, Spain had gained 28% of quotas and came in 5th place in the share of basic income supporters in Europe.

The “B-MINCOME” experiment

In November 2017, payments began in Barcelona as part of a 2-year basic-income experiment covering 1,000 households from the city’s poorest neighborhood. The payments ranged from 400 to 500 euros per month and depended on the composition of the family.

All participants were divided into 10 groups and participated in a combination of the following ways.

Forms of participation in the project:

  1. Conditional: participation in one of the four active involvement programs was required to receive payments.
  2. Unconditional: participation in one of the four active engagement programs is not required to receive payment.
  3. Restricted: any additional income the household earns reduces the amount of the payment.
  4. Unrestricted: any additional income the household receives does not reduce the amount of payments.

Participation Groups:

1. 450 households received a municipal allowance (SMI) without any restrictions. They only had to comply with the terms of the experiment: continue to live in the area of the city until the end of the project, October 30, 2019, agree to anonymous observation, information, etc. This group was divided into 2 subgroups:

1.1. with need verification – the amount of payments was reduced by the amount of additional household earnings;

1.2. without means test – participants received the full amount of SMI for the duration of the experiment, regardless of additional income. It was this subgroup that received a benefit similar to basic income, that is, a guaranteed monthly cash payment without the need for work or means testing. The only difference from the classic basic income was that the amount of the benefit depended on the composition of the household;

2. 550 households not only received SMI, but were also subject to the relevant social policies. They were categorized into 8 other subgroups according to the relevant policy and mandatory or voluntary participation in the policy.

The policies included:

a) the occupation and education program (150 households);

b) an entrepreneurship, social and cooperative economy program (100 households);

c) a guaranteed housing program and a community participation program (200 households).

A report was published in July 2019 with preliminary results from the experiment, concluding that the project led to:

  • Increased overall well-being across all groups;
  • Reduced risk of falling asleep hungry;
  • decreased anxiety and stress levels;
  • increased food security;
  • improved sleep quality, psycho-emotional well-being;
  • increased social activity and involvement in social life.

Italy

Discussion and implementation

In Italy, the question of basic income has been debated for a quarter of a century – since 1997.

The Basic Income Network (BIN) Italia is active in the country.

The idea of “citizen’s income”, which does not fully correspond to the term “unconditional basic income”, is being discussed and lobbied for to a greater extent in Italy. This idea was part of the 2018 election program of one of the parties in the ruling coalition, the 5 Star Movement, and was implemented in 2019.

In January 2019, the Italian Council of Ministers approved the introduction of a “civic income” for the least protected groups below the absolute poverty line: the poor, the unemployed and the elderly. The budget for the program was estimated at 14.8 billion euros and the number of recipients at about 5 million people. The duration of the payments was set for a year and a half from April 2019 to October 2020, and the amount of payments varied by region and ranged from 560 to 820 euros.

Citizen’s Income is a program that combines unemployment benefits with a guaranteed minimum income. So an unemployed single person renting a flat was entitled to a payment of 780 euros, of which 280 euros had to go to pay for housing. In the case of employment with a salary of less than 780 euros, such a person was entitled to a supplement to that level at the expense of the allowance. For a full family with two children the income limit was set at 1180 euros, of which the same 280 euros were to be spent on rent. The same procedure was applied to the “civil pension” with a set limit of 780 euros.

The experiment in the city of Livorno

In June 2016, Italy launched its first pilot project for the payment of basic income. The project was initiated by the mayor of the coastal city of Livorno Filippo Nogarin (“Five Star Movement”). For 6 months, 100 of the city’s neediest families received $ 537 per month, which is about 517 euros. Livorno has a total population of more than 150,000 people.

In December 2017, it was announced that the project would be expanded to include another 100 low-income families.

The question of extending the Livorno experience to other Italian cities, starting in 2019, was discussed by Minister of Economy Giovanni Tria and Minister of Labor and Economic Development Di Maio. Nevertheless, it did not come to practical implementation.

Petitions

In Italy, there are active petitions regarding the introduction of a basic income, especially in the face of a pandemic. So in March 2020, the Basic Income Network (BIN) Italia petitioned the Italian government and parliament with the petition “Civic income for all! If not now, when?”, demanding the payment of an emergency basic income, or the expansion of the narrow circle of recipients of civil income to all citizens of the country. At the time of writing, the petition is open, garnering 14,700 signatures in support.

Latvia

Latvia has a system of guaranteed minimum income (for the difference between basic income and guaranteed minimum income, see the section of the same name (link to H3 – Difference between basic income and guaranteed minimum income). Its amount was:

in 2013-2018 – 49.8 euros;

In 2019 – 53 euros;

In 2020 – 64 euros;

In 2021 – 109 euro.

In September 2020, the Latvian Saeima had to budget for 2021 a 1.7-fold increase in the guaranteed minimum income, implementing an earlier decision of the Constitutional Court, which recognized the irrelevance to the population of the current state aid standards in the country. The guaranteed minimum income from January 1, 2021 (109 euros) is only 20% of the country’s median income.

By November 26, 2020, in the two months of the European Citizens’ Initiative ECI-UBI 2020, Latvia had gained only 2% of the quotas and ranked 20th in the EU in terms of the share of basic income supporters.

Netherlands

Discussion and implementation

The Netherlands is one of the active European countries in which the idea of a basic income has many supporters, spread by public figures and organizations, but does not find as active support from the government.

The Netherlands is home to one of Europe’s most prominent young thinkers promoting the idea of a basic income, Rutger Bregman, a Dutch historian and author of books on history, philosophy and economics, including A History of Progress (2013), Utopias for Realists (2017) and Humankind (2020).

The Vereniging Basisinkomen Basic Income Association, now the Dutch branch of BIEN International, has been active since 1991.

In January 2015, Norbert Klein (Liberal Party) proposed to the lower house of parliament an initiative to put basic income on the national agenda in the Netherlands. The lower house decided to consider his proposal and asked the government to respond to the note.

In 2016, a basic income was advocated:
– Liberal Party leader Norbert Klein;
– The Green Left parliamentary party, which supports experimentation;
– The party for animals (“Partij voor de Dieren”).

By November 26, 2020, in two months of the European Citizens Initiative ECI-UBI 2020, the Netherlands had gained 14% of the quota and ranked 8th in the proportion of basic income supporters in the European Union.

Municipal Experiments

Since 2015, local experiments have been discussed and prepared in more than 30 Dutch municipalities. The largest of these were four municipalities in the country: Utrecht, Tilburg, Groningen, and Wageningen. However, the Dutch Ministry of Social Affairs required that the cities interested in the experiments develop a common plan.

The most famous was the experiment in the city of Utrecht, with a population of about 300,000 people, planned for two years, from 2017 to 2019. Prepared for January 2017, the experiment was postponed because of new requirements from the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment of the Netherlands.

In preparation for the Utrecht experiment, 250 low-income participants were divided into 6 groups:
1) with receipt of unconditional payments of 960 euros per person and 1,300 euros per couple;
2) with the same amount unconditionally and an additional 150 Euros at the end of the month for volunteer work;
3) with payments received at the beginning of the month and returned at the end of the month if they do not do well as a volunteer;
4) the remaining groups without basic income, but with receipt of the previous benefits from the state in various variations.

Information about the actual experiment and its results, unfortunately, could not be found.

Individual Experiment

In 2015, the only participant in a 12-month private experiment with a basic income in Holland was freelance copywriter Frans Kerwer. From July 2015 to June 2016, he received $1,100 a month from the organization MIES (Association for Innovation in Economy and Society).

Frans Kerwer became a participant in the experiment precisely because of his active volunteer work, particularly through participation.

Receiving a basic income allowed the 53-year-old Kerwer:
– switch to a normal 50-hour work week – previously he had to work 12 hours a day;
– devote more time to his family;
– devote more time to volunteer work: on Saturdays he baked bread while participating in the Garden City community agricultural project.

According to the participant himself, the most valuable gain he made from the basic income he received was time.

Petitions

In December 2016, the Dutch Citizen Initiatives Committee rejected a petition for a basic income in 2018 signed by 65,000 citizens. Forty thousand signatures were enough to consider the issue in parliament, but despite this, the committee decided not to refer the issue to the legislature for discussion.

In 2017, a petition was submitted to the Dutch parliament with more than 113 thousand signatures in favor of an experiment with a basic income for unemployed people over the age of 55.

In 2018, nearly 60,000 people signed a petition calling for a discussion of basic income in parliament. The main demand of the petition: the introduction of a guaranteed income of 1,000 euros per month for all adults, basic health insurance and an additional benefit for children under the age of 18.

Norway

The basic income movement Borgerlonn-BIEN Norge was founded in Norway in October 2012. In the political arena, the idea of a basic income is supported by the Democratic and Pirate parties, as well as by the Greens and Reds.

Among the population the idea is not widely supported. According to the European Social Survey, in 2016-2017 (wave 8 of the ESS) Norway was the country with the lowest number of supporters of basic income (33%).

Poland

There is no civil movement for basic income in Poland and there are no public discussions on this issue in the country.

Since April 2016, Poland has had a “Family 500+” program, under which the state pays 500 zlotys per month for each child. This is a tax-free unconditional aid aimed at partially covering the costs of families related to the upbringing and care of children under the age of 18.

Initially, the project applied to the second and subsequent children, for whom the payment was unconditional, while the allowance for the first child depended on the family’s income. As of January 1, 2019, this benefit is available to all parents and caregivers for each child regardless of family income.

Russia

Discussion

In Russia, the idea of basic income has been promoted since 2017 by the Interregional public movement “Basic Income Russia ZAVTRA”, which is a member of the BIEN World Basic Income Network, as well as the Interregional Trade Union “Social Security”.

Russian politicians have long shied away from discussing basic income. The situation changed dramatically due to the pandemic. First, in April 2020 a number of deputies of the Moscow City Duma and other regions appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin with a proposal to support the population with direct payments of 25 thousand rubles per adult and 15 thousand rubles per child. We all know what measures were actually implemented.

Then, in September 2020, a number of politicians in the country started talking about a basic income.

On September 7, 2020, Andrei Kutepov, chairman of the Federation Council’s Economic Committee, proposed introducing a basic income for the unemployed, starting as early as this year 2020 and continuing through 2025. He wrote to presidential aide Maksim Oreshkin about it. To begin with, he suggested using the resources of the National Welfare Fund.

The use of the term “base income” in relation to unemployment benefits is not entirely clear. Clearly this is not a basic income, but it is worth noting two positive things: the suggestion of immediate measures and the amount adequate to a person’s living needs – three minimum subsistence levels, i.e. almost 35 thousand rubles.

It is also not clear how and why a significant part of the working population of Russia will receive a salary lower than the unemployment benefit. However, the initiative was not implemented.

On the same day, the Duma deputy Fedot Tumusov (“Just Russia”) proposed to pay such a basic income for the unemployed in Yakutia as an experiment, if it is scary to introduce such a project on a nationwide scale. According to him, for the North, 35 thousand rubles is not much, besides, the region is sparsely populated.

The next day, September 8, 2020, Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of the Security Council, suggested discussing the introduction of a guaranteed minimum income at a meeting of the United Russia party. The difference between the basic income and the guaranteed minimum income is given in the section of the website with the same name.

Another day later, on September 10, 2020, Zakhar Prilepin, the leader of the party For Truth, stated that the party would defend the introduction of a basic income in Russia because everyone should receive the means to live without any restrictions. According to Z. Prilepin, a basic income is one of the 3 key topics the party will promote. To begin with, it will be 2,500 rubles. Gradually, the amount will be brought up to the living wage. Obviously, with this approach, the basic income will not be implemented in the classic form, because in the initial stages, it will serve as a supplement to all existing social protection programs. Only over time, when its amount will be brought up to the size that provides for the vital needs of an individual, will the various benefits and allowances be phased out.

At the end of November 2020, a proposal to introduce an unconditional basic income in Russia was made by Viktor Betekhtin, a deputy of the State Council of the Komi Republic, and Ruslan Khvostov, the chairman of the Green Alternative party. They noted that the amount of base income should be “sufficient for a decent existence.

Political scientists, economists, and the public joined the discussion.

You can read experts’ opinions regarding the amount of a base income in the “Opinion of Experts” section, and you can read the results of opinion polls of Russians in the “Polls in the Russian Federation” section.

The fate of basic income in our country depends on us, ordinary citizens. It is in our power to form a public inquiry to politicians about our future: a creative society and a basic income that ensures a decent standard of living for everyone without any conditions.

Experiments

Only two experiments with basic income have been implemented in Russia. Both were launched in March 2019, and both are very modest.

Experiment “Basic Income to Russians”

The experiment “Basic Income to Russians” was launched in March 2019. The pilot was initiated by the social movement “Basic Income Russia Tomorrow,” which is a member of the BIEN World Basic Income Network.

Only 8 people became recipients: the father of a large family and pensioners from the Moscow region, large families from the Republic of Buryatia and a young woman from Moscow. Payments continued for 3 months, starting in April 2019. The size of payments ranged from 5 thousand to 6.5 thousand rubles. Funding was provided by private donations.

Questionnaires-questionnaires offered to participants at the beginning and at the end of the experiment were developed by the Institute of Socio-Economic Problems of Population RAS.

As a result of the experiment, people’s health, both mental and physical, improved, and the money received was spent on buying food, clothing, and paying bills and education. Particularly notable results were recorded in low-income families and families with many children.

The Yalland Program

The Yalland program was launched on March 15, 2019 in the village of Yantarny, Kaliningrad region. It was initiated by the nonprofit Yalland Unconditional Basic Income Foundation and funded by charitable donations.

Initially, the amount of payments to participants was 1,000 rubles per month and was promised to be paid throughout the life of the program. On a weekly basis, 10 people were randomly selected from those who registered on the site to participate in the project. Since July 2019, the geography of the program was expanded to cover the entire Kaliningrad region, and since November 2019 – the entire territory of Russia. As of November 15, 2019, there were more than 12,000 participants in the project, but just over 350 of them were recipients.

At one period, the payments were transformed into accrual of points, which could be spent on goods and services, except alcohol and tobacco, in a single store in the village of Yantarny.

In 2020, the Fund changed the terms of participation and payments. At the same time, it was announced on the Fund’s website that participants who were receiving cash payments at the time the program conditions changed would receive them for another year, and then would be switched to a point system.

Under the new conditions applications for participation were accepted from all Russian citizens over 14 years of age who confirmed their identity. It was possible to apply only through the mobile application with the same name. All the registered and verified persons automatically became the participants of the project. Each week, the Foundation awarded 250,000 points, which were called YALL. These points were distributed among all participants of the project. In order to receive them, a participant had to confirm their receipt in the mobile app. Through the app, the points could be exchanged for roubles at the exchange rate in effect on the date of application.

A participant could also become a regular recipient of basic income based on the results of a random drawing, or raffle: 250 rubles weekly, as well as 2,500 rubles weekly in case of a correct answer to a question asked in a phone call during a live broadcast.

On October 21, 2020, on the page of the Fund in social networks VKontakte and Facebook there was a message that the Fund suspends the program (no longer exchanges points for rubles and does not conduct drawings), and its support service does not work or works in a limited mode.

As of that date, there were over 20 thousand registered participants in the program, of whom only 4.7 thousand were recipients; the total sum of the payments amounted to 8.9 million rubles. The exchange rate was 0.74 rubles per YALL.

It is difficult to understand why this program was called an experiment with basic income. During the period in which the points received were exchanged for goods and services in a single store, it was really possible to analyze the consumer preferences of basic income recipients. During the rest of the period, the funds were simply paid out to participants without any questionnaire.

Petitions

In Russia, the issue of introducing unconditional basic income has not been brought up for public discussion. In spite of this, a number of petitions have been sent to various state authorities on the Change.org platform since 2016:

  1. “Introduce Unconditional Basic Income in the Russian Federation.” The petition was created on August 5, 2020 by Olga Prydacha and is addressed to the State Duma, the President of the Russian Federation and the Ministry of Economy of the Russian Federation. One of the points of the petition is introduction of the unconditional basic income in the Russian Federation in equivalent of 2500 euros. At the time of writing, the petition is open.
  2. “For Unconditional Basic Income.” The petition was created on April 24, 2020 by Vitaly Zyuzin; it is addressed to the Government of the Russian Federation. The main demand of the petition is introduction of unconditional basic income for non-officials of Russia at the rate of 500 euros per citizen per month. At the time of writing, the petition is open.
  3. “Create an unconditional basic income.” Date of creation: April 17, 2016. Author:Evgeny Sirius. Addressee: President of the Russian Federation. Main demand: “To create an unconditional basic income (hereinafter – BBI) in the amount of subsistence minimum, which will be paid to every citizen regardless of place of residence, age, income and wealth. Even if a citizen lives in another state, he is entitled to receive ROB and only from his state. As of this writing, the petition is open.
  4. “$500 a month of basic income for everyone – the state owes you! 50 countries have already decided so.” Petition author: public organization “Basic Income Russia ZAVTRA” Date of creation: February 19, 2018. The petition is addressed to the State Duma, the President of the Russian Federation and the Federation Council of the Russian Federation. One of the points of the petition is to introduce in 2020 a basic income for each citizen of the Russian Federation in an amount equivalent to at least $500 per month. At the time of writing, the petition is open.
  5. “Introduce an unconditional income for every citizen of Russia = make life better.” Date of creation: April 14, 2020. Petition author: Coordinating Council of Public Organizations Supporting the Operational Headquarters of the Government to Prevent and Prevent the Spread of Coronavirus Infection in the Russian Federation. The petition is addressed to the President of the Russian Federation. The main demand: to introduce “an unconditional basic income equal to the subsistence minimum (approximately 12,000 rubles)…from birth until the last day. At the time of writing, the petition is open.
  6. “Personal data is a guaranteed basic income for all Russians!” Petition author: public organization “Basic income Russia ZAVTRA” Date of creation of the petition: May 2, 2019. Addressee: President of the Russian Federation. One of the petition’s demands is that all Russian citizens should be paid a basic income of at least ½ of the living wage “for the use of their personal data.” At the time of writing, the petition is open.
  7. “For an unconditional basic income of 20,000 rubles per month for every resident of Yakutia.” The petition was created on June 1, 2019 by Igor Popov and is addressed to the President of Russia. The petition’s only demand: “to assign an unconditional (guaranteed) basic income of 20,000 rubles per month to every resident of Yakutia.” At the time of writing, the petition is open.
  8. “Russians have no right to be poor in rich Russia! We need a “basic income” experiment”. Petition author: public organization “Basic Income Russia ZAVTRA” Date of creation of the petition: February 19, 2019. Addressee: the President of the Russian Federation. The authors of the petition propose a two-year experiment in Russia with a basic income of 11 thousand rubles per month, covering 2 thousand recipients. The authors also support spreading the idea of “Eurodividend” in Russia, and in fact unconditional basic income. At the time of writing, the petition is open.
  9. “Adopt the idea of building a society with unconditional basic income as the national Idea of Russia.” The petition was created on March 15, 2018 by Konstantin Medyannikov; addressed to the Government of the Russian Federation, the Presidential Administration and the State Duma. The main demand of the petition is: to accept “the national Idea of providing an unconditional basic income… combined with the widespread introduction of robotics in our society.” As of this writing, the petition is open.
  10. “Unconditional Basic Income for Russian Citizens.” The petition was created on January 28, 2017 and is addressed to the State Duma, the President of the Russian Federation and the Federation Council. The petition’s only demand: payment of an unconditional basic income to “all members of the community regardless of income level and without the need to do work.” The petition closed with 333 signatures.
  11. “To replace the pension system with an ‘unconditional basic income’ for pensioners.” The petition was created by Vladimir Samarin on June 19, 2018, and is addressed to the President of the Russian Federation, the Russian Government, and the Federal Assembly. The author of the petition believes: “If the unconditional basic income for ALL can reduce the will to work and development for young people, then the “unconditional income” for pensioners with sufficient work experience meets the requirements of social justice. As of this writing, the petition is open.
  12. “Let’s distribute the state’s income fairly.” The petition was created by Alexey Bacherikov on February 1, 2016 and addressed to the President of Russia. The petition begins with the words: “Dear Russians! And also Ukrainians, Belarusians, Kazakhs and many other peoples of the Earth!” Among various kinds of proposals for reducing inequality in society there is the following: to introduce a tax “on income, on ABSOLUTELY ALL income, all adults including pensioners”, “from all incomes of Russians abroad and all incomes of foreigners in Russia, including foreign companies Google, Apple, Microsoft” at the rate of 1% and at the end of the year to distribute funds “equally on all Russians, adults, pensioners and children”. The petition closed with 354 signatures.
  13. “‘Major Revenue Expedition’ collects signatures to receive ‘BBD’.” The petition was created on February 20, 2020 and is addressed to RobPay SPb (Verification Center, St. Petersburg). The authors ask for monetary “support of the society on the principle: Unconditional Basic Income (IBE)”. It is proposed to make payments at the expense of “dividends received by investing into the world’s first payment aggregator with many independent and competitive business units”. At the time of writing, the petition is open.
  14. “Demographics in the Far East – opportunities and crisis of ideas among officials and businesses…” Petition author: Federal Public Movement of Large Families of Russia “Future Movement”. Date of creation of the petition: December 1, 2016. Addressee: President of the Russian Federation. The authors of the petition propose to use the “basic basic basic income (BBI)” “for the purposes of the demographic development of the country”:
  • From January 1, 2018 to pay “10 thousand rubles per child per month in families with 5 or more children.”
  • From January 1, 2019 – “8 thousand rubles per child per month in families with 4 children”;
  • From January 1, 2020 – “6 thousand rubles per child in families with 3 children.”

The petition is closed, having collected 67 signatures.

15. “The Future Movement – Basic Income “Gratitude” for mothers of large families of Russia”. Petition author: Federal Public Movement of Large Families of Russia “Future Movement”. Date of creation of the petition: November 13, 2017. Addressee: President of the Russian Federation. In essence, the authors repeated the petition “Demography in the Far East – opportunities and crisis of ideas of officials and business…” from December 1, 2016. The petition is closed, having collected 510 signatures.

Ukraine

Discussion

In June 2020, the media was actively discussing the possibility of a guaranteed minimum income in the country. The demand for its introduction was contained in the draft memorandum on economic and financial policy, which was to be signed by the Ukrainian government and the International Monetary Fund to allocate the next tranche to the country.

The intention to introduce a guaranteed minimum income was also announced by Minister of Finance Serhiy Marchenko. However, the Ministry of Social Policy reported that such projects are not discussed or considered.

There is also a public organization “Guaranteed Basic Income” Ukraine, which has implemented one mini-experiment and proposes a 2-year experiment covering 2 thousand people, with a basic income payment of 200 euros per month.

Experiments

What was planned?

In November 2018, it was announced that the first experiment with a basic income in Pavlograd was being prepared. Initially, it was supposed to pay a monthly amount equivalent to 100 euros to 2 thousand randomly selected participants for 2 years. The program was supported by the Pavlograd city administration, which later refused to participate in the project. As a result, the timeline of the project was shifted, and the scale was reduced many times.

In December 2018, the head of the Podol village council in Cherkassy region Artem Kukharenko announced the parallel implementation of another experiment. It was supposed to be a 2-year payment of basic income in the equivalent of 200 euros per month to all residents of the village of Podolsky – 550 people.

What was realized?

In fact, the experiment “Guaranteed Basic Income to Ukrainians” was launched in Pavlograd on June 25, 2019. It combined two projects announced in 2018. 10 people received the equivalent of $50 for 3 months. It should be noted that the recipients were selected from the members of the public organization “Basic Income”. The project was funded by donations from philanthropist and BIEN member Alexander Solovyov. Questionnaires were administered to the participants at the beginning and end of the experiment.

Petitions

Many electronic petitions with a request to introduce a basic income and conduct an experiment in the country have been sent to the President of Ukraine in recent years, but all of them failed to find public support and could not gather the required 25 thousand votes within the time period given for the petition.

The petitions are listed in chronological order:

  1. On July 12, 2017, Yuri Sergeevich Dushinsky’s petition for the introduction of unconditional basic income in the country was published. The petition garnered 60 votes.
  2. On October 10, 2018, Sergey Viktorovich Androshchuk first posted a petition to introduce unconditional basic income. The petition received 118 votes.
  3. On January 11, 2019, Sergey Viktorovich Androshchuk re-published a petition to introduce unconditional basic income. The petition received 101 votes.
  4. On August 21, 2019 the head of the initiative group “Guaranteed Basic Income” in Ukraine Valentina Grishchenko sent a petition asking to implement a 12-month experiment with the payment of a monthly basic income equivalent to 200 euros to 2 thousand participants. The petition garnered 93 votes.
  5. On August 27, 2019 Androshchuk Sergey Viktorovich posted a petition for the third time to introduce unconditional basic income. The petition received 45 votes.
  6. On September 4, 2019, Nina Ivanovna Koval posted a petition asking for the introduction of “unconditional basic income.” The petition garnered 48 votes.
  7. On October 17, 2019, Sidorenko Andrey Ivanovich published a petition proposing the introduction of a basic income, the amount of which is determined on the basis of the relevant expenses of a citizen, ranging from food and utilities to education and cultural and entertainment expenses. The petition garnered 35 votes.
  8. On October 19, 2019, Koval Nina Ivanovna again petitioned for an “unconditional basic income.” This time, the petition garnered 89 votes.
  9. On February 17, 2020, Vasiliy Vasilievich Cheypesh petitioned for the introduction of a “single basic income for a citizen.” The petition received 29 votes.
  10. On May 7, 2020, a petition requesting the introduction of a basic income as a right of citizens to receive a share of the GDP was sent. The author of the petition: Alexander Kolizhuk. The petition received 154 votes.
  11. On September 14, 2020 the petition with the offer of payment of the basic income to persons with no official income and socially vulnerable groups of population (disabled people, single mothers, large families) in the amount of subsistence wage during 5 years was published. Petition author: Aleksandr Olegovich Viktorov. At the time of writing, the petition had gathered 86 votes, with 18 days left until the end of the petition.
  12. On May 25, 2019, Gennady Jus’ petition proposing the introduction of a “universal basic income,” or “citizen’s dividend,” in an amount equivalent to 100-200 euros was published. The petition received 208 votes.

Finland

Experiment

In Finland, a 2-year basic income experiment was conducted in 2017-2018. It involved 2,000 randomly selected long-term unemployed between the ages of 25 and 58. At the time of participation in the experiment, all participants received a means-tested benefit, supplementing their income to a set minimum of 560 euros per month.

The idea of the experiment, which was initiated by the government’s social protection agency Kela, was supported by 70% of the country’s residents. Kela agency paid to the participants of the experiment 560 euros a month without any conditions. In case of employment the participants continued to receive a basic income. The amount of 560 euros bordered on the poverty line, as the average wage in Finland during the experiment was close to 3400 euros.

The main goal of the experiment was to “promote employment,” because the government wanted to find out whether the basic income would promote employment, even if the job was temporary and the wages were small.

The experiment’s organizers’ expectations were not met – participants did not work more. In 2017, the average number of days of employment increased by only 0.39, and in 2018, with the nation’s tightening unemployment benefit requirements, by 5 days. The positive effect was less in the capital than in rural areas.

Preliminary results of the experiment were published in 2019, with a final report on May 6, 2020.

The results of the experiment manifested themselves in a different sphere than its initiators expected:

  • an increase in life satisfaction, (7.3 points vs. 6.8 out of ten). According to McKinsey’s estimates, a person’s income would have to increase by 800 to 2,500 euros per month to achieve such a result.
  • an increase in self-assessment of one’s financial condition (60% instead of 52%);
  • less anxiety and susceptibility to depressive moods (76% instead of 65%);
    improved physical health (58% instead of 51%);
  • increased confidence in people (6.7 points instead of 6.3).

France

Discussion and implementation

The French basic income movement Mouvement Français pour un Revenu de Base (MFRB) was founded in 2013.

In early January 2016, a report was submitted to the French Ministry of Labor and Social Relations with the results of a study on how automation affects working conditions. The report was prepared by the French state agency, the National Council for Digital Technology. The report suggested exploring the possibility of basic income in France through an experiment.

A few days later, Delphine Bateau, deputy of the Socialist Party and former Minister of Justice and Environment, introduced an amendment to the digital bill requiring the government to prepare a report on the economic feasibility of basic income within six months.

In May 2016, a Parliamentary Commission on Basic Income was established, which in October produced a report concluding that the country needed to test basic income through 3-year pilot projects involving up to 30,000 citizens. If the pilots were successful, the report suggested the following criteria for potential basic income in the country:

  • Be paid only to adult residents;
  • Be higher than the current amount of the minimum guaranteed income;
  • To be provided unconditionally, but did not exclude the possibility of using the money for specific purposes with the provision of basic income in the form of vouchers;
  • Be financed through sweeping fiscal reform and partial replacement of existing welfare benefits in a manner favorable to recipients.

In 2017, basic income was included in the electoral program of French presidential candidate Benoît Amon, a former representative of the Socialist Party. He promised to pay all adult citizens of the country a basic income with a gradual increase in the monthly amount to 750 euros, but dropped out in the first round.

In March 2020, 58 deputies of the French National Assembly proposed the payment of an unconditional basic income to adult citizens as part of a fundamental plan to adapt society to post-coronovirus life.

Experimental attempts

In 2015, the EELV party submitted a project to the Regional Council of Rhône-Alpes to conduct a feasibility study of a basic income pilot. The project was rejected.

During the same period, a proposal for a basic income experiment was submitted to the regional council of the southwestern region of France, Aquitaine, which voted unanimously in favor of it.

Since 2017, the basic income experiment has been discussed and planned in Gironde, the southwestern region of France. It was initiated by Gironde President Jean-Luc Glaze and was scheduled for 2019. However, in January 2019, a proposal for a law on the basic income experiment submitted to the French parliament by the Groupe Socialistes & visibleées party was rejected by the ruling coalition.

Czech Republic

In the Czech Republic, the movement for an unconditional basic income began in 2013. At the political level, the idea is supported by the following parties:

  • pirate;
  • Communist;
  • “The Greens;
  • Social Democratic;
  • Party of Democratic Socialism.

Switzerland

Referendum

The campaign for the organization of a referendum on the introduction of a basic income in Switzerland began back in 2012. If successful, it would have been a classic unconditional basic income, as payments would have been received by all citizens without exceptions or conditions.

On June 5, 2016, 76.9% of Swiss citizens voted against the introduction of a basic income in a referendum. The Swiss rejected a monthly unconditional amount of 2,500 Swiss francs (about $2,500 or 157,000 rubles) for each adult citizen and 625 francs (about 40,000 rubles) for children.

This is considerably more than in Finland. The Finns paid their unemployed in the 2017-2018 experiment about as much as the Swiss were going to set their children.

By comparison, the average wage in Switzerland in 2015 was 6,200 Swiss francs per month

The experience of Switzerland, where inequality is low and most citizens are paid about 90% of the national average, cannot be extended to other countries and cited as an argument. In Russia, for example, the level of inequality is much higher, and the deviation of the median wage from the average in 2019 was 28% across the country, including 13 to 31% in the regions.

It was the low level of inequality that explained the Swiss rejection of the basic income in the referendum, since its introduction would have given some improvement in living standards to a small number of poor citizens, whom the vast majority would have had to finance. This majority ensured the result of the referendum: 77% against.

Experimental Attempts

In Zurich

In the 2016 referendum, 2 Zurich districts voted for a basic income. In November 2017, the Zurich parliament decided to launch a pilot project in these 2 districts. Within 2 years, the city council had to prepare the project.

Already a week later, Philip Kovze rejected the proposal for a pilot in Zurich, as well as pilot projects in general. As co-author of the basic income manifesto, he believes that the benefits of basic income are better understood in broad public discussions than in a small-scale experiment.

In the village of Rainau

In 2016, a quarter of the population of the Swiss village of Rainau supported the idea of an experiment that Dorf Testet Zukunft (Future Test Village) volunteered to organize. Swiss filmmaker Rebecca Panian was the author of the idea. By October 2018, 813 of the village’s 1,300 residents had registered to participate in the experiment. The project was set to launch in 2019. By that deadline, more than 5 million Swiss francs (4.4 million euros) had to be raised through crowdfunding. The amount raised had to be distributed evenly among all recipients during the year:

  • children under the age of 18 – 550 euros per month;
  • Young people aged 18-22 years – 1,100 euros per month;
  • Adults aged 22 to 25 years old – €1,640 per month;
  • Persons over 25 years old – 2,190 euros per month.

 

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Universal Basic Income: pros and cons, countries with UBI