The Minimum Subsistence Guarantee (MSG) was reportedly "RMB 677.6 per person per month and in rural areas this amount reaches RMB 496.9 per person per month (2020)" (That's about 100 USD in urban areas, btw.)

When China had the "one child" policy, fines were imposed for extra children. These were pretty substantial:

the fine which can be as high as 150,000 yuan or about $20,000 US dollars for urban dwellers or as low as 7,000 yuan or almost 900 US dollars for rural residents.

I'm not sure how someone who had no income and relied on the Minimum Subsistence Guarantee would have been fined though. I'm guessing a portion of their income (i.e. MSG in this case) would have been garnished. Exactly how much though, given that that's supposed to be a "Minimum Subsistence Guarantee"?


1 Answer 1


has two social welfare benefits

  • a conditional basic income for people of employable age (Grundsicherung für Arbeitssuchende), and
  • an unconditional basic income for retired people (Grundsicherung bei Erwerbsminderung und im Alter)

both subject to a comprehensive means test (i. e. other income and assets must be exhausted first).


The programs (are officially meant to) ensure a bare minimum sociocultural subsistence level (soziokulturelles Existenzminimum) within the limits of human dignity (constitutionally guaranteed Menschenwürde).

The word sociocultural means, the basic income goes beyond the breadline (just food/water), but what is considered culturally appropriate to participate in the German society is covered too, for instance (economic) accommodation and heating.


The basic income rates are based on statistical data (Einkommens‑ und Verbrauchsstichprobe, income and consumer spending survey) compiled every five years of which only

  • 15 % of the lowest-income single‑person households, and
  • 20 % of the lowest‑income multi‑person households

are considered, in conjunction with CPI‑based extrapolation for the intermediate years. The statistics also contain values for (governmental) fines and penalties.

Policymakers however deemed fines and penalties (and many, many other expenses) as irrelevant for guaranteeing a bare minimum sociocultural subsistence level, so such expenses are excluded (not covered) by the basic incomes.

NB: In the context of the conditional basic income you may be penalized for misbehaving (Sanktionen) reducing the available amount of money even further.


Social welfare benefits can only be subject to seizure if they are above the general poverty line, § 53 f. SGB Ⅰ. As explained above this is by design never the case with basic income recipients.

  1. The mandatory means test confirmed there are no expendable assets and income is insufficient.
  2. By deeming many expenses irrelevant the basic income rates are below the poverty line.

Of course you can decide to pay the fine regardless, but legally it is not possible to squeeze any money out of you.


If you do not voluntarily pay a fine, it depends on whether it is a fine for a crime you have been sentenced for, or a fine for an offence.

  • Criminal fine: This can escalate to imprisonment. Jail time reduces the owed amount. You may have the option to apply for rendering community service instead of imprisonment.
  • Administrative fine: You are given the option to pay in installments. If you do not pay voluntarily, this can escalate to (short‑term) imprisonment, too. Jail time does not reduce the owed amount, though.

If you are imprisoned, you may furthermore lose your claim for the conditional basic income, which just opens a can of worms.


Germany has, like many other nations, merely an implicit one child policy. There are lots of advantages for the first child, but additional children do not have as much benefits.

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