Now on YouTube: Emergency basic income: Distraction or Opportunity (Politics of Basic Income Talk Series)

On May 16th, Jurgen De Wispelaere and Francesca Bastagli explored the implications of Emergency Basic Income (EBI) for social protection systems and its relationship to Universal Basic Income (UBI) as part of the “Politics of Basic Income” talk series. They examined whether EBI can be integrated into existing programs, overcome barriers, and fuel changes towards more generous policies, while also discussing the divided opinions on whether EBI is an opportunity or a distraction for the future development of UBI.

Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 crisis, the idea of providing the vast majority of citizens with immediate unconditional cash support for a time-limited period gained considerable traction with decision makers as well as the general public. Several countries proceeded to implement cash transfers that mimic EBI in key respects.

The EBI model opens up a series of interesting questions for policy analysts and social protection scholars alike. The speakers focused on how EBI interfaces with existing social protection systems and whether it might be able to build on existing programmes or fuel a change towards designing and instituting less targeted and more generous social protection policies in the near future.

An equally important set of questions arises in relation to how EBI fits with UBI, considering the clear contrasts both in design (temporary versus permanent) and context (short-term emergency versus long-term steady state). The basic income community itself is divided on whether to regard EBI as an opportunity to further boost the public awareness and policy support for basic income or as a distraction that will only sidetrack productive social protection development.

The event built on a plenary session of the 21st BIEN Congress, held on 26–28 September 2022 in Brisbane, Australia, in which policy experts, representatives of INGOs and basic income scholars debated the merits and impact of the EBI proposal during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The “Politics of Basic Income” talk series, hosted by the Bath UBI Beacon and Freiburg Institute of Basic Income Studies (FRIBIS), in partnership with the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN), has been running monthly every 3rd Thursday since October 2023. Experts from around the world continue to share insights on UBI policy, movement building, and research. Stay tuned for upcoming events in the series.

Book Presentation and Expert Workshop on Universal Basic Income and Social Power at the University of Freiburg (September 4 and 5, 2024)

On September 4 and 5, 2024, FRIBIS is set to host two events on the topic of UBI and its potential to foster social power and freedom.

On September 4, 2024, the new book Unconditional Freedom: Universal Basic Income and Social Power by David Casassas will be presented at the University of Freiburg. The event, organized in collaboration with the Freiburg Institute for Basic Income Studies (FRIBIS), will feature a discussion with the author, joined by Ben Spies-Butcher (Macquarie University) and Bianca Blum (University of Freiburg).

In his book, Casassas explores how UBI can help mitigate social exclusion and precarious employment while enhancing the bargaining power of individuals and collectives. The presentation marks the beginning of a two-day focus on UBI and its potential to provide an exit option for workers.

The book presentation is free and open to the public. For more information, click here.

On the following day, September 5, 2024, FRIBIS will host an expert workshop titled “Basic Income as an Exit Device: Possibilities and Challenges” at the Liefmann-Haus. Organized by Jurgen De Wispelaere and Fabienne Hansen, the workshop will bring together proponents and critics of the exit option and its role in a basic income society. Presentations will be held by David Casassas, Ben Spies-Butcher, and various junior researchers.

The workshop aims to address recent criticism of the exit option, which argues that UBI may not offer a real or robust exit option, that exit options are not easily generalizable across the diverse population of workers, and that they may not confer real social power or equalize bargaining power between workers and employers.

Speakers and presentations:

  • David Casassas (University of Barcelona): Bargaining Power: Exit Options for Entry Doors and the Emancipatory Potential of Basic Income
  • Clem Davies (University of Freiburg): Universal Basic Income and Exit Options – An Experimental Approach
  • Jurgen De Wispelaere (University of Bath) & Tobias Jäger (University of Freiburg): Basic Income Exit as a Social Good
  • Jeeeun Jang (Tampere University): Why Context Matters: The Role of Basic Income in Exit Mechanisms
  • Ben Spies-Butcher (Macquarie University): Exits Both Ways? Reflections on Basic Income, Care and Work
  • Mike Howard (University of Maine) and Bernhard Neumärker (University of Freiburg): Basic Income as an Exit Device: Ordoliberalism Meets Socialism. Discussion moderated by Jurgen De Wispelaere (University of Bath)

For more information about the workshop, click here.

Please note, this is a closed event. If you are interested in participating or want further information, please contact Fabienne Hansen.

Now on YouTube: Vincent Liegey – A Degrowth Perspective on UBI (Basic Income Politics Talk Series)

Vincent Liegey gave a talk on April 18, 2024, about the integration of Universal Basic Income (UBI) into the degrowth movement. His talk was part of the “Basic Income Politics Talk Series,” which is organized by the Bath UBI Beacon and the Freiburg Institute for Basic Income Studies (FRIBIS) in cooperation with the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN).

Liegey explored the potential of UBI as a tool for systemic change and discussed how it can be aligned with the principles of the degrowth movement to contribute to a sustainable and equitable future. He discussed the conditions under which UBI could serve as an effective tool for degrowth initiatives. Furthermore, he aimed to situate UBI within a broader framework. He addressed aspects such as universal basic services, local, alternative, non-speculative exchange systems, maximum income, wealth redistribution, decommodification, and commons.

About Vincent Liegey: Vincent Liegey is an engineer, interdisciplinary researcher, and coordinator of the international degrowth conferences and the Observatoire de la Décroissance. He has co-authored several books on degrowth, including “Exploring Degrowth: A Critical Guide” (Pluto Press, 2020), “Décroissance, Fake or Not” (Tana Editions, 2022), “Sobriété (la vraie): mode d’emploi” (Tana Edition, 2023), and “Un Projet de Décroissance” (Utopia, 2013). Liegey also leads Cargonomia, a Budapest-based center dedicated to research and experimentation on degrowth. Cargonomia also functions as a social cooperative, offering sustainable logistical solutions and facilitating local food distribution using cargo bikes.


Participate in Basic Income Research and Earn Money: FRIBIS Team SoCoBis Hosting Basic Income Experiments in Freiburg (April 22-24)

The FRIBIS team SoCoBis is hosting a series of behavioral economics experiments at the University of Freiburg from April 22 to 24, 2024. Participants will have the opportunity to actively engage in basic income research within an interactive setting while also earning money in the process.

The experiments will be conducted in English and are open to everyone, not just students. Various time slots are available across the three days, with each session lasting approximately 90 minutes.

Interested individuals can sign up for the experiments via the Eventbrite page, which also provides further details on the specific dates, times, and locations of the experiments. If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out to the organizers at

Call for Papers for FRIBIS Annual Conference 2024: Towards the Development of a Full UBI? (7-9 October)

Call for Papers for FRIBIS Annual Conference 2024: Towards the Development of a Full UBI? (7-9 October)

FRIBIS invites you to its Annual Conference 2024 from October 7th to October 9th in Freiburg, themed “Towards the Development of a Full UBI? Perspectives on Partial Approaches in Different Welfare Systems.” By examining feasible designs of partial basic income, the conference aims to identify ways to advocate for the idea of an unconditional basic income politically. FRIBIS is particularly interested in contributions related to social protection floors, sustainability, and issues in an international context.

The conference consists of a core part, with keynotes, plenary sessions, core conference panels and presentations from the respective core FRIBIS teams on a current central theme of the basic income discussion and an open conference part. The publication of a collected volume is planned; the best contribution will be awarded the FRIBIS Best Paper Award, valued at €1,000.

Event Details:


    • Period: October 7th, 2024, 1:00 PM to October 9th, 2024, 3:30 PM CEST
    • Format: Hybrid
    • Submission Deadline: June 30th, 2024
    • Contact:

Topics and submission process

The FRIBIS Annual Conference will cover three core themes: social security, sustainability, and global perspectives on Basic Income. For a detailed description of the topic areas and specific questions, please visit the event page.

  • Call for Papers: Researchers and activists are encouraged to submit their abstracts and manuscripts on the aforementioned topics.
  • Call for Workshops: Space for creative and experimental workshop formats.

Registration for Attendees and Further Information

Registration for audience members will be available from July 5th, 2024, via the FRIBIS event page. Participation is free of charge.



Basic Income and Reparations (Nika Soon-Shiong, Liz Fouksman, Richard Wallace & Elise Klein)

Streamed on: March 21, 2024, 06:00-07:30 pm (UK)

On March 21, 2024, our four guests, Nika Soon-Shiong, Liz Fouksman, Richard Wallace, and Elise Klein, spoke about the connections between Universal Basic Income (UBI) and the increasing calls for reparations as tools for global social justice. They explored how UBI can address the historical and contemporary harms of racial capitalism, coloniality, and ongoing dispossession, questioning whether UBI can serve as a mechanism for achieving repair and if it can advance justice without integrating with broader reparations efforts.

Abstract: “America’s systems of welfare and mass incarceration have historically criminalized and harmed Black, brown, Indigenous, poor, immigrants, and more. 65% of Black Americans were made ineligible for Social Security when it was first introduced, followed by the legal exclusion of Black citizens from the wealth-building mechanisms of the New Deal and G.I. Bill. Discriminatory social services and tax laws have consistently provided fewer resources to people and neighborhoods of color. In contrast, the US spends $300 Billion annually on mass incarceration. A system of direct, recurring income support cannot wait for further evidence that reducing poverty decreases poverty. Real success requires unraveling the corporate construction of crime, fraud, and safety. Nika discussed movement-led efforts to intervene in procurement processes, emphasizing that policy implementation should not rely on the same old companies and consultants who built what needs to change.”

Speaker Biographies:

Elise Klein (OAM): An Associate Professor of Public Policy at the Crawford School at the Australian National University. Her research is situated in the intersections (and cracks) of development, social policy, de(coloniality), and care. She is the co-director of the Australian Basic Income Lab.

Nika Soon-Shiong: Executive director of the Fund for Guaranteed Income, an organization that raises money to advocate for and distribute universal basic income payments to certain communities, using identity politics as a basis for determining which communities should receive the payments, prioritizing ethnic minorities and impoverished people.

Richard Wallace: Founder and Executive Director of Equity and Transformation (EAT), an artist & community organizer dedicated to advancing racial equity in the US. In 2021, EAT launched the Chicago Future Fund, a groundbreaking Guaranteed Income pilot for formerly incarcerated people. He currently sits on the Global Advisory Board for the Atlantic Institute and serves on the Strategy Table for the Movement for Black Lives.

Dr. Liz Fouksman: A Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Social Justice at the Centre for Public Policy Research at King’s College London. Liz’s research focuses on understanding moral, social, and cultural attachments to work and working. It looks at the impediment such attachments pose to new imaginaries of the future of labor and distribution in an increasingly automated world, drawing on long-term empirical fieldwork in South Africa and Namibia to understand resistance to radical redistributive policies such as universal basic income.

Politics of Basic Income Talk Series

The event is part of the Politics of Basic Income Talk Series, initiated in October 2023. This time is was hosted by Dr. Joe Chrisp, a Research Associate at the Institute for Policy Research (IPR), University of Bath, who completed his PhD on the political feasibility of basic income in high-income countries, and Joseph Cooke, an Undergraduate Research Assistant and Politics and International Relations BSc student at the University of Bath. This event series, a collaboration between the Bath UBI Beacon and Freiburg Institute of Basic Income Studies (FRIBIS), in partnership with the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN), continues to bring together experts globally to share insights on UBI policy, movement building, and research.

WEF-FABI Online Seminar Series: Ubuntu, Social Contracts, UBI, WEF-Nexus, Social Protection, and Empirical Research

Together with our partners at UNAM the WEF-FABI Team will host an online seminar series on “Ubuntu, Social Contracts, UBI, Water-Energy-Food Nexus, Social Protection, and Empirical Research,” starting on 21/03/2024. With assorted guests, the series will create a path of interconnections and differences between these topics and ask how their elements fit together. We want to examine how Ubuntu can be used in social experiments. Finally, the workshop findings will be incorporated into joint work (e.g. joint papers or field studies).

“Ubuntu” is a bond of unity amongst the people of Africa (Asike 2016, p. 7). In this sense, ubuntu is a philosophy that justifies norms and deliberate rules. With that, it touches common ground with the tradition of the social contract theory. In our series, we will follow various questions connecting these two traditions of thought: What are the main positions in these philosophical traditions? What are the similarities/differences between ubuntu and social contract theory? How can the shared features of the two of them be connected? We will then confront philosophical insights with the idea of a universal basic income and further link the various strings to possible impacts on social policy interactions. We take a look at the trade-offs between different policies and sharpen our awareness of the water-energy-food nexus and social protection. Finally, we will see how we can use empirical methods to normative justify policies and contribute to solving trade-offs.

If you are interested in a workshop, see the dates below and join (register) through the registration form on the workshop eventpage. The presentations are free to join using the zoom link provided in the event.


All events will be held from 2 – 4 pm (CAT)


21/03/2024       I’m Because We’re: Understanding the African Ubuntu Philosophy
Robert Senath Esuruku (University of Makerere, Kampala)

28/03/2024       Social Contract
Bernhard Neumärker (University of Freiburg)

04/04/2024       Universal Basic Income
Jurgen De Wispelaere (University of Bath)

11/04/2024       Water-Energy-Food Nexus
Mike Jacobson (Penn State University)

18/04/2024       Social Protection
Leo de Haan (International School of Social Studies, The Hague)
AF Kamanzi (University of Namibia)

25/04/2024       Empirical Normative Research
Tobias Jäger (University of Freiburg)


02/05/2024       Debating Connections: Bringing the Different Ideas Together

09/05/2024       Different Philosophical Traditions: What Can We Learn for Social Policy?

Publication of two policy papers on the topic of empirical methods in basic income research

FRIBIS is pleased to announce the publication of two policy papers resulting from the discussion and insights of the second part of the FRIBIS Summer School 2023, “Empirical methods of UBI investigation”. The event took place from 11th to 14th April 2023 under the aegis of Prof. Bernhard Neumärker, the FRIBIS team SoCoBisTeam and its leader, Lida Kuang.

Does voluntary social cooperation promote liberal egalitarian justice?

The first policy paper, from Hedvig Mendonca, Lida Kuang, Simon März and Larissa Walter, explores the question of how voluntary social co-operation can promote liberal-egalitarian justice. On the basis of social contract assumptions and by carrying out an experiment, the authors investigate the extent to which voluntary social cooperation influences people’s decisions in favour of a liberal-egalitarian principle of redress, or not. In the context of a balloon game, in which participants have to decide together how to divide up the points they have scored, the relevance of cooperation in fostering fair distribution decisions soon becomes evident.

Decision-Making of Disadvantaged Individuals – A Proposal for an Experimental Extension

The second paper, from Patrick Oschwald, Eva Jacob, Adalbertus Kamanzi and Gudrun Kaufmann, addresses the question of the role that one’s social status plays in their decision-making when it comes to resource allocation and political redistribution measures. By analysing the psychological foundations of decision-making – such as preferences for redistribution due to economic disadvantages and the pursuit of justice within one’s own social class – the paper provides practice-oriented recommendations for making political measures more just and inclusive.

PDF Distributional Decision-Making of Disadvantaged Individuals – A Proposal for an Experimental Extension

Talk by Otto Lehto (NYU), 7th of March 2024: “Universal Basic Income (UBI) as a tool of adaptation and discovery”

In November/December 2021 Otto Lehto, an associate Junior Researcher at FRIBIS, joined us in Freiburg as a visiting researcher at the Götz Werner Chair of Economic Policy and Order Theory. On 7 March 2024, he will be giving a lecture on basic income “as a tool of adaptation and discovery” at the London School of Economics.

The event will be online and is open to the public.



Many of its proponents argue that UBI gives recipients “real freedom” (Van Parijs), consumer sovereignty (Friedman, Hayek), or increased protection against domination and exploitation in the labour market (Pettit, Standing, Widerquist). At the same time, many critics worry about the costs of the program. Assuming that UBI indeed has freedom-increasing properties, and that it can be implemented in a fiscally sound manner, how attractive a proposal (if at all) is UBI as “real freedom”? Issues of justice, fairness, and efficiency must all play a part in the debate. However, my talk argues that the best case for UBI-as-freedom lies in its capacity to act as a tool of adaptation in the face of radical uncertainty, social complexity, and emerging crises (like pandemics and A.I.). The increased autonomy that UBI gives to people may facilitate more creative and decentralized ways of solving problems. If the incentives are properly aligned, the decentralized actions of free and autonomous citizenry will lead to more innovations and more productive uses of resources. This benefits society on the whole. Of course, without sufficient safeguards, UBI-as-freedom may lead to various undesirable social outcomes, including a host of antisocial, unproductive, and destructive behaviours and attitudes. This means that UBI should be integrated into a broader institutional perspective that interferes minimally with the real freedom of the citizens but indirectly guides people’s actions towards the public good.

Speaker bio

Dr. Otto Lehto is a philosopher and political economist whose current work focuses on PPE, complexity theory, evolutionary theory, political philosophy, ethics, basic income, social epistemology, human enhancement, and naturalism. He is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at NYU School of Law (2022-) and an affiliated Junior Researcher at University of Freiburg’s FRIBIS Institute (2021-). He gained his PhD in Political Economy from King’s College London (2022) on the topic of Complex Adaptation and Permissionless Innovation: An Evolutionary Approach to Universal Basic Income. He also has a BA in English Philology (2009) and a Master’s Degree in Social and Moral Philosophy (2015) from University of Helsinki. He is the recipient of the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) LAHP studentship (2017-2019), Adam Smith Fellowship at George Mason University (2019-2020), and a Templeton Foundation Grant at King’s College London (2020). He is currently writing a book about basic income, innovation, and freedom. His website is


Thomas Straubhaar’s lecture now on YouTube: „Die 3-E des Bedingungslosen Grundeinkommens aus ökonomischer Sicht: einfach, effektiv und effizient”

On 11 January 2024, Prof. em. Dr. Thomas Straubhaar, one of the leading UBI proponents in the economic debate within the German-speaking world, came to Freiburg to give an evening lecture at the invitation of FRIBIS. “Die 3-E des Bedingungslosen Grundeinkommens aus ökonomischer Sicht: einfach, effektiv und effizient” (“The 3 E’s of Basic Income from an economist’s point of view (easy, effective and efficient). In his lecture, he gives insights into his relationship with Freiburg as well as the personal experiences and research findings that have made him an advocate of the UBI.

The Freiburg Connection

Prof. Straubhaar began his lecture by emphasising the important role that Freiburg has played throughout his academic career. As a young research assistant he had the opportunity to edit the galley proofs of Alfred Müller-Armack’s works, which were published by the Rombach publishing company in Freiburg. Müller-Armack’s vision of a social market economy that strives for a harmonious balance between market efficiency and social justice had a lasting impact on his economic ideas.

His time, in 1991/92, as a deputy professor at the Freiburg Chair of Economic Policy, known as the Friedrich von Hayek professorship, also left a lasting impression on a very personal level. The experience of having a significant part of his gross salary reduced by deductions for social security made it clear to him how much of a financial burden the existing social security system was. This personal exposure to the costs that employees bear without feeling any direct benefits reinforced his thoughts on alternative forms of social security and strengthened his interest in the concept of a basic income.

The Importance of a UBI

In his lecture, Straubhaar explains why, in his view, a UBI is not only an innovative response to current socio-economic challenges but also the logical consequence of the ordoliberal principles advocated by the so-called Freiburg School of Economics. He argues that a basic income can create the ideal link between individual freedom and social security by providing every citizen with a financial safety net, without hindering the dynamics of the market.