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Two million euros for research into basic income

The dm-Werner Foundation sponsors the Götz Werner Professorship of Economic Policy and Constitutional Economic Theory

Freiburg, May 21, 2019

Two million euros for research into basic income

Götz W. Werner, Hans-Jochen Schiewer, Beatrice Werner und Bernhard Neumärker (from left). Photo: Patrick Seeger

A constant, reliable income for all citizens - not conditional on any kind of requirements or reciprocity. For some 15 years here in Germany, universal basic income has been the focus of a broad debate as a social model for a secure and dignified livelihood. The dm-Werner Foundation is now supporting research at the University of Freiburg which is seeking ways to turn the idea into reality. The Foundation is sponsoring the Professorship of Economic Policy and Constitutional Economic Theory at the Economics Institute with funding of two million euros over the next ten years.

“No other businessman in Germany has thought so consistently about universal basic income – or urged it as strongly – as Götz Werner,” says Professor Dr. Hans-Jochen Schiewer, Rector of the University of Freiburg. “It is very much in the tradition of Ordoliberalism, the Freiburg school of Economics, to develop a framework for this model. Its founder, Walter Eucken, regarded the setting up of a ‘functioning, sustainable and dignified order’ as the chief task of Economics and the Social Sciences. Thus we are very pleased and grateful for the great opportunity which the dm Foundation is opening up for us, with its help, to contribute groundbreaking research into the question of how economically and socially sustainable coexistence can be assured for everyone in society.”

Professor Götz W. Werner, founder of dm-drogerie markt, is an active proponent of universal basic income and the accompanying idea that all human beings should have the chance to develop their creative strengths and abilities, free from the most basic economic pressure. “The world of work has fundamentally changed in the past ten, fifteen years. To meet the challenges of the future, we need to separate work from income and recognize work as a creative task. The Archimedian point is the notion of unconditional basic income. The research at the University of Freiburg will provide decisive academic and socio-political impetus for the introduction of the universal basic income,” says Werner. Götz Werner opened the first dm-Markt in Karlsruhe in 1973. On 18 May, the state of Baden-Württemberg awarded him its Order of Merit for his services to the state’s economy and his support for many cultural and social projects. The Order of Merit is the highest honor the state can confer.

Professor Dr. Bernhard Neumärker, Director of the Department of Economic Policy and Constitutional Economic Theory at the University of Freiburg and its new professor, has been working on questions of basic income and related reform ideas for several years. “Basic income opens up an enormous field of activity for a ‘new Ordoliberalism,’ which questions the one-sided orientation towards paid work and the competition that characterize the dominant economic liberalism - instead placing the focus on creative and restorative free time, unpaid work – such as looking after family – and the value of voluntary work,” he says. “This discussion is already heated across society - and it is sorely in need of support from academic research. With the terrific support of the dm-Werner Foundation, we at the University of Freiburg aim to establish a core research area which will bring together academics and scientists from the fields of Psychology, Sociology, Political Philosophy and Economics and shines a light on basic income as an economic and social way of thinking.”

Along with joint research for faster and more in-depth research, the Freiburg initiative is placing the emphasis on increased recognition and systematic discussion of universal basic income in society and politics. An additional aim of this newly-agreed research funding is to achieve a broad effect and to connect academic research with debate in society.


Further information




Professor Dr. Bernhard Neumärker
Director of the Department of Economic Policy and Constitutional Economic Theory
University of Freiburg
Phone: 0761/203-9457