Economy of Denmark
|This article is outdated. (September 2014)|
|Economy of Denmark|
|Currency||Danish krone (DKK, kr)|
|EU, OSCE, WTO, OECD and others|
|GDP|| (PPP; 50th)|
|-0.4% (2012 est.)|
GDP per capita
|$36,336 (2010 forecast) (PPP; 17th)|
GDP by sector
|agriculture: 4.5%; industry: 19.1%; services: 76.4% (2011 est.)|
Population below poverty line
|24.7 (List of countries)|
|2.92 million (2009)|
Labour force by occupation
|agriculture: 2.5%; industry: 20.2%; services: 77.3% (2005 est.)|
|Unemployment||8.0% (August 2012)|
Average gross salary
|4,047 € / 5,464 $, monthly (2006)|
|2,390 € / 3,226 $, monthly (2006)|
|petroleum and gas, iron, steel, nonferrous metals, chemicals, food processing, machinery and transportation equipment, textiles and clothing, electronics, construction, furniture and other wood products, shipbuilding and refurbishment, windmills, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment|
|Exports||$91.49 billion (2009 est.) 33rd|
|machinery and instruments, meat and meat products, dairy products, fish, pharmaceuticals, fashion apparel, furniture, windmills, Christmas trees, potted plants, mink and fox skin, salt, various specialty niche products|
Main export partners
| Germany 15.9%
United Kingdom 9.6%
United States 6.6%
Netherlands 4.6% (2012 est.)
|Imports||$84.74 billion (2009 est.)|
|machinery and equipment, raw materials and semimanufactures for industry, chemicals, grain and foodstuffs, consumer goods|
Main import partners
| Germany 20.8%
United Kingdom 5.6% (2012 est.)
Gross external debt
|$607.4 billion (30 June 2009)|
|45.3% of GDP (2012 est.)|
|Revenues||$175.4 billion (2009 est.)|
|Expenses||$175.6 billion (2009 est.)|
|Economic aid||ODA, $2.13 billion (2005)|
AAA (T&C Assessment)
(Standard & Poor's)
|US$86.560 billion (March 2011)|
Denmark has a diverse, mixed economy, but one that relies almost entirely on human resources, as there are few mineral resources available, except mature oil and gas wells in the North Sea. Cooperatives form a large part of some sectors, be it in housing, agriculture or retail. Foundations play a large role as owners of private sector companies. Denmark's nominal GDP was estimated to be $333,238 million, the 32nd largest in the world. It has the world's lowest level of income inequality, according to the World Bank Gini (%), and the world's highest minimum wage, according to the IMF. As of June 2010 the unemployment rate is at 7.4%, which is below the EU average of 9.6%. As of 28 February 2014 Denmark is among the countries with the highest credit rating.
Denmark's main exports are: industrial production/manufactured goods 73.3% (of which machinery and instruments were 21.4%, and fuels, chemicals, etc. 26%); agricultural products and others for consumption 18.7% (in 2009 meat and meat products were 5.5% of total export; fish and fish products 2.9%). Denmark is a net exporter of food and energy and has since the 1990s had a balance of payments surplus. Overall the value of service and merchandise exports in 2013 amounted to 54% of GDP, and imports in 2013 amounted to 49% of GDP. Notable among the service exports are container shipping. There is no net foreign debt as other countries owe more money to Denmark than Denmark owes to them, but because of large deficits due to increased unemployment levels the central government has increased its debt level since the end of September 2008, when it stood at 21 percent (gross debt) of GDP, according to the central bank - in accordance with the Eurostat EMU- gross debt numbers, which only take liabilities into account. (See below (Budgets)). Taking assets into account as well net debt of the central government was 11 percent. The public sector as a whole had net assets of 108 billion kroner in 2008. Within the European Union, Denmark advocates a liberal trade policy. Its standard of living is average among the Western European countries - and for many years the most equally distributed as shown by the Gini coefficient - in the world, and the Danes devote 0.8% of gross national income (GNI) to foreign aid. It is a society based on consensus (dialogue and compromise) with the Danish Confederation of Trade Unions and the Confederation of Danish Employers in 1899 in Septemberforliget (The September Settlement) recognising each other's right to organise, thus, negotiate. The employer's right to hire and fire their employees whenever they find it necessary is recognised. There is no official minimum wage (Danish: minimumsløn) set by the government; the minimum of wages (Danish: mindsteløn) is determined by negotiations between the organisations of employers and employees. Denmark produces oil, natural gas, wind- and bio-energy. Its principal exports are machinery, instruments and food products. The US is Denmark's largest non-European trading partner, accounting for around 5% of total Danish merchandise trade. Aircraft, computers, machinery, and instruments are among the major US exports to Denmark. Among major Danish exports to the U.S. are industrial machinery, chemical products, furniture, pharmaceuticals, Lego and canned ham and pork.
- 1 Overview
- 2 Welfare state
- 3 Taxation and employment
- 4 Public sector reform
- 5 Agriculture
- 6 Transport
- 7 Energy
- 8 Greenland and the Faroe Islands
- 9 GDP
- 10 Major companies
- 11 See also
- 12 Footnotes
- 13 References
- 14 External links
This thoroughly modern market economy features high-tech agriculture, up-to-date small-scale and corporate industry, extensive government welfare measures, comfortable living standards, and high dependence on foreign trade. Denmark is a net exporter of food. The center-left coalition government (1993–2001) concentrated on reducing the unemployment rate and turning the budget deficit into a surplus, as well as following the previous government's policies of maintaining low inflation and a current account surplus. The coalition also committed itself to maintaining a stable currency. The coalition lowered marginal income tax rates while maintaining overall tax revenues; boosted industrial competitiveness through labor market and tax reforms, increased research and development funds. The availability and duration of unemployment benefit has been restricted to four years and because of rapidly rising prices on housing this has led to an increase in poverty from below 4% in 1995 to 5% in 2006 according to the Danish Economic Council . Despite these cuts, the part of the public sector in Denmark which buys goods and services from the private sector and provides the public sector administration and direct service to the public - nursing institutions for the young or old, hospitals, schools, police, and so on. - has risen from 25.5% of GDP during the former government to 26% today and is projected to be at 26.5% in 2015 if current policies continue .
Denmark chose not to join the 11 other European Union members who launched the euro on 1 January 1999. Especially from 2006, economists and political pundits have expressed concern that the lack of skilled labour will result in higher pay increases and an overheating of the economy, which would repeat the boom-and-bust cycle in 1986, when government introduced a tax reform and restricted the private loan market because of a record balance-of-payments deficit. As a consequence, the trade balance showed a surplus in 1987, and the balance-of-payments in 1990 (first surplus since 1963). They have remained in surplus since, except for the balance of payments in 1998.
Denmark has a broad-reaching welfare system, which ensures that all Danes receive tax-funded health care and unemployment insurance. Denmark ranked the first in the European pensions barometer survey for the past two years. The lowest-income group before retirement from the age of 65 receive 120% of their pre-retirement income in pension and miscellaneous subsidies.
The largest public sector (30% of the entire workforce on a full-time basis) is financed by the world's highest taxes. A value added tax of 25% is levied on the sale of most goods and services (including groceries). The income tax in Denmark ranges from 37.4% to 63% progressively, levied on 4 out of 10 full-time employees. Such high rates mean that 1,010,000 Danes before the end of 2008 (44% of all full-time employees) will be paying a marginal income tax of 63% and a combined marginal tax of 70.9% resulting in warnings from organisations such as the OECD. TV2 (Denmark) reported in April 2008 that abolishing the middle- and top-level income tax brackets would amount to two (2) and one (1) percent of public sector revenue, respectively, which equals one and a half percent of GDP. The public sector as a whole had a budget surplus of 4.4% of GDP in 2007, but the tax cuts would increase private consumption and the labor shortage, thus, resulting in a deficit on the trade balance and pressure to increase wages even further. Proceeds from selling ones home are not taxed, as the marginal tax rate on capital income from housing savings is around 0 percent. A survey by Standard & Poor's found that the total debt secured by mortgages in Danish homes amounts to 89.8% of GDP, which is above the debt level in other EU countries (and the USA at 74.6% of GDP).
Discussions on increasing the labor supply include abolishing a labor market arrangement called efterløn (eng.:early retirement pay), at the present (end of 3rd quarter 2008) with more than 130,000 participants (60 years until 64 years of age). Participation in this scheme is also open for self-employed people (farmers, fishermen, lawyers, and so on). Shortening the time unemployment benefit can be received (four years at the present), as an example, is also discussed. The Danish Economic Council in its 2008 spring report (27 May) proposes limiting the dagpengeperiode to 2.5 years, which is still half a year more than at present in Norway and one and a half years more than in Sweden, said in an interview by the chairman (da: overvismand) (professor of economics, University of Copenhagen) Peter Birch Sørensen 27 May 2008 on the TV program Deadline (10.30 pm), channel DR2, the Danish Broadcasting Corporation.
Taxation and employment
With a GDP of 1,642,215 million DKK and revenue from taxes and ownership at 803,693 million DKK (2006), 49.07% of GDP, it is of extreme importance what happens in the tax-financed part of the economy. According to newly revised statistics, Denmark had the world's highest tax level in 2005 and 2006, at 50.7% and 49.1% respectively and also held this position 1970-74 and 1993-95. These figures do not include income from ownership.In 2013, the overall tax level was 47.9 %.
The overall surpluses after operating and capital expenditure in the whole public sector for the years 2004-2008: (million DKK) 27,327; 77,362; 79,937; 75,560 ('07 preliminary); 69,140 ('08 estimate). The public sector debt-liabilities still outstanding 1 January 2008 in accordance with the Eurostat EMU-debt numbers (gross debt) are 440.9 billion DKK (26.0% of GDP). In spite of falling surpluses this debt is expected to fall until 2015. As of 2008 there is no net debt in the public sector as a whole, but instead net assets of 43 billion DKK. The central government is determined to pay off the debt as fast as possible, avoiding the temptation to increase spending which might overheat the economy (increase wages and eventually prices drastically) because of a short supply of skilled labor and in the end require financial austerity measures to cool off the economy. Reporting on the record low unemployment numbers of under 50,000 persons in April 2008 published 9.30 am 29 May by Statistics Denmark, TV2 (Denmark), at 10 pm, with comments from Nordea Bank's (Denmark) chief economist Helge Pedersen, and DR2 (Danish Broadcasting Corporation), at 10.30 pm stressed the danger of overheating the economy and keeping public sector spending in check or otherwise risk economical-political measures. Being surprised at how low unemployment was, the economist said (TV2) that compared with previous periods with such a low unemployment rate, a trade deficit was avoided mainly because of the oil export.
The EMU-gross debt was 730 billion DKK at the end of 1993, 80.1% of GDP. During the four-year period 2004-2007 the public sector EMU-gross debt fell from 43.8% (641.9 billion DKK) to 26.0% (440.9 billion DKK) of GDP. The budget surpluses were (in billion DKK) 1.9% (27.2), 5.0% (77.4), 4.8% (79.3), and 4.4% (74.6) of GDP, respectively.
Public sector employment (full-time and part-time) has been relatively steady at more than 800,000 a year this first decade, making up around 38% of total full-time (28% of full-time and part-time) employment, whereas private sector employment has risen by over 300,000 since the 1990s to slightly over 2 million in 2007 (full-time and part-time). With the information based partly on payments to the Arbejdsmarkedets Tillægspension pension fund of all employees and insured but unemployed members of an unemployment fund in Denmark, full-time employment is calculated at over 2.3 million persons in the third quarter of 2007. The increase in the fourth quarter of 2007 from a year ago in the number of employed persons was 1.0% and the amount of hours worked was 2.9% higher.
The share of employees leaving jobs every year (for a new job, retirement or unemployment (unempl.:15% of job leavers)) in the private sector is around 30% (of 1.25 million), at more than 300,000 - a level also observed in the U.K. and U.S.- but much higher than in continental Europe, where the corresponding figure is around 10%, and in Sweden. This attrition can be very costly, with new and old employees requiring half a year to return to old productivity levels, but with attrition bringing the number of people that have to be fired down. Productivity increased at an average of 2.3% a year in 2004, 2005 and 2006, recently being revised upward from an average of just 0.9% and previously with a too high employment level estimated. The upward revision is good, because a high wage economy like Denmark's with very few valuable natural resources needs to be highly productive, or efficient, and innovative to compete with other countries for a market share in the global economy. However, according to OECD, the distortions imposed by a combined marginal tax wedge of 70% (60% income tax plus 25% VAT, not counting elevated excise duties on certain goods) are hurting productivity and in turn the country's competitiveness.
Public sector reform
To gain synergies through economies of scale (critical mass) (greater professional and financial sustainability) and big item discounts and to offer a wider array of services closer to the public (be a one-stop place of access to the public sector not unlike the unitary councils), it was deemed necessary to merge the municipalities and other administrative entities in the public sector. This would also help alleviate the financial problems of depopulation due to limited job opportunities, high unemployment and aging and make introduction of new information technology more affordable With the tax burden at around half of GDP, a survey July 2008 found that 81% of Danes are of the opinion that the public sector can deliver more service for the same money, harnessing the advantages of the recent reform. Mainly from 1 January 2007, the new center-right government streamlined the public sector extensively by decreasing the number of administrative units drastically in the different tiers of government, that is, in the number of city court circuits (from 82 to 24), police districts (from 54 to 12), tax districts (before 2007 the responsibility of the municipalities;after that part of the central government Ministry of Taxation), reshuffling tasks among the three government levels and abolished the counties in Kommunalreformen ("The Municipal Reform" of 2007), thereby reducing the number of local and regional politicians by almost half to 2,522 (municipal councillors) (council elections November 2005;reduced in the 2009 elections to 2,468;in 2013 to 2,444) (1978: 4,735;1998: 4,685; reduced somewhat in council elections November 2001 (Bornholm)) and 205 (regional councillors) (1998: 374) respectively. Before 1970 (a previous reform in effect from 1 April that year) the number of councillors (both categories) was around 11,000 in around 1,000 parish municipalities (sognekommuner), being supervised by their county, and market city municipalities (købstadskommuner), the latter numbering 86 (including Bornholm whose county as an exception supervised the county's 6 market city municipalities (of 22 in total)) and not being part of a county but being supervised by the Interior Ministry. This distinction (having independent municipalities not being under county supervision) ending (except for Copenhagen, Frederiksberg and Bornholm (2003–06)) with the reform of 1970, the term municipality (kommune) replaced the previous two terms, which are now never used except for historical purposes. The number of municipalities had been reduced when during the period from April 1962 to 1966 398 municipalities merged to form 118 voluntarily. The number of municipalities was the highest in 1965, at 1345, of which 88 were market city municipalities, including Copenhagen and Frederiksberg, and 1257 were parish municipalities . Many of the 275 municipalities after 1 April 1974 built large city halls to consolidate the administration, thus, changing the cityscape of Denmark. It also consolidated other municipal enterprises and the purchase of goods and services from the private sector, as will some of the present 98 municipalities over time.TV2(Denmark) reported 24 September 2007, that SKI, a mutual purchasing service company for central government, regions, and municipalities, made purchases of 140 billion DKK (almost 9% of GDP) of goods and services in bulk every year, prompting private sector companies to complain over razorthin profit margins and that for instance innovative (but expensive) products and energy efficiency sometimes were better than a very low price.
Denmark is home to various types of agricultural production. Within animal husbandry, it includes dairy and beef cattle, pigs, poultry and fur animals – primarily mink, all sectors with a major export. Regarding vegetable production, Denmark is a leading producer of grass-, clover- and horticultural seeds.
The Danish agricultural industry is characterized by freehold and family ownership but due to structural development farms have become fewer and larger. With modern trade patterns the profitability increasingly depends on global market trends. The arable land in Denmark is approximately 2,646,000 hectares, and the number of farms approximately 40,000, out of which approximately one third is owned by full-time farmers.
The agriculture is intensive with 64 per cent of the area being used for production. This equals production of food for 15 million people. The value of Danish agricultural export, including the agribusiness sector, has risen steadily in recent years and accounted for 16 billion Euros in 2011. The agriculture and food sector as a whole represents 20 per cent of total Danish commodity exports.
The tendency towards fewer and larger farms has been accompanied by an increased animal production using fewer resources pr. produced unit.
The number of dairy farmers is reduced to about 3,800 with an average herd size of 150 cows. The milk quota is 1,142 tonnes. Danish dairy farmers are among the largest and most modern in Europe. More than half of the cows live in new loose-housing systems. Export of dairy products accounts for more than 20 per cent of the total Danish agricultural export. The total number of cattle in 2011 was approximately 1.5 million. Of these 565,000 were dairy cows and 99,000 were suckler cows. The yearly number of slaughtering of beef cattle is around 550,000.
For more than 100 years the production of pigs and pig meat has been a major source of income in Denmark. The Danish pig industry is among the world’s leaders in areas such as breeding, quality, food safety, animal welfare and traceability creating the basis for Denmark being among the world’s largest pig meat exporters. Approximately 90 per cent of the production is exported. This accounts for almost half of all agricultural exports and for more than 5 per cent of Denmark’s total exports. About 4,200 farmers produce 28 million pigs annually. Of these 20.9 million are slaughtered in Denmark.
Fur animal production started in the 1930s in Denmark. Denmark is the world’s second largest producer of mink skin. In 2012, 1525 farmers produced 15.6 million mink skin of the highest quality. Approximately 98 per cent of the skins sold at Kopenhagen Fur Auction are exported. Fur ranges as Danish agriculture’s third largest export article. Special attention is given to the welfare of the mink, and regular “Open Farm” arrangements are made for the general public.
Two hundred professional producers are responsible for the Danish egg production, which was 66 million kg in 2011. Chickens for slaughter are often produced in units with 40,000 broilers. In 2012, 100 million chickens were slaughtered. In the minor productions of poultry, 13 million ducks, 1.4 million geese and 5.0 million turkeys were slaughtered in 2012.
Significant investment has been made in building road and rail links between Copenhagen and Malmö, Sweden (the Øresund Bridge), and between Zealand and Funen (the Great Belt Fixed Link). The Copenhagen Malmö Port was also formed between the two cities as the common port for the cities of both nations.
The main railway operator is Danske Statsbaner (Danish State Railways) for passenger services and DB Schenker Rail for freight trains. The railway tracks are maintained by Banedanmark. Copenhagen has a small Metro system, the Copenhagen Metro and the greater Copenhagen area has an extensive electrified suburban railway network, the S-train.
Private vehicles are increasingly used as a means of transport. Because of the high registration tax (180%) and VAT (25%), and the world's highest income tax rate, new cars are very expensive. The purpose of the tax is to discourage car ownership. Whether a smaller fleet of aging cars is better than a larger fleet of modern cars is a matter for debate, however as the car fleet has increased by 45% over the last 30 years the effect of high taxation on the fleet size seems small. The motorway network now covers 1,111 km
In 2007, an attempt was made by the government to favour environmentally friendly cars by slightly reducing taxes on high mileage vehicles. However, this has had little effect, and in 2008 Denmark experienced an increase in the import of fuel inefficient old cars (mostly older than 10 years), primarily from Germany as their costs including taxes keeps these cars within the budget of many Danes.
Denmark is in a strong position in terms of integrating fluctuating and unpredictable energy sources such as wind power in the grid. It is this knowledge that Denmark now aims to exploit in the transport sector by focusing on intelligent battery systems (V2G) and plug-in vehicles.
Denmark is a long time leader in wind energy and a prominent exporter of wind turbines, and as of May 2011[update] Denmark derives 3.1% of its gross domestic product from renewable (clean) energy technology and energy efficiency, or around €6.5 billion ($9.4 billion). It has integrated fluctuating and unpredictable energy sources such as wind power into the grid. Denmark now aims to focus on intelligent battery systems (V2G) and plug-in vehicles in the transport sector. Energinet.dk is the Danish national transmission system operator for electricity and natural gas.
Oil and Natural Gas
Denmark has considerable sources of oil and natural gas in the North Sea and ranks as number 32 in the world among net exporters of crude oil. Esbjerg is Denmark's main city for the oil and gas industry, this is because of its ideal location close to the north sea, which is where Denmark's Oil and gas deposits are found. Companies like Maersk, Ramboll, Stimwell Services, ABB, Schlumberger, COWI and Atkins all have offshore related activities in the city.
Greenland and the Faroe Islands
Greenland suffered negative economic growth in the early 1990s, but since 1993 the economy has improved. A tight fiscal policy by the Greenland Home Rule Government since the late 1980s helped create a low inflation rate and surpluses in the public budget, but at the cost of rising foreign debt in the Home Rule Government's commercial entities. Since 1990, Greenland has registered a foreign trade deficit.
Following the closure of Greenland's last lead and zinc mine in 1989, Greenland's economy is solely dependent on the fishing and tourism and financial transfers from the Danish central government. Despite resumption of several interesting hydrocarbon and mineral exploration activities, it will take several years before production will begin. Greenland's shrimp fishery is by far the largest source of income, since cod catches have dropped to historically low levels. Greenland also has a prominent whaling industry, Greenlandic Inuit whalers catch around 175 whales per year, making them the third largest hunt in the world after Japan and Norway, though their take is small compared to those nations, who annually averaged around 730 and 590 whales respectively in 1998–2007. The IWC treats the west and east coasts of Greenland as two separate population areas and sets separate quotas for each coast. The far more densely populated west coast accounts for over 90 percent of the catch. In a typical year around 150 minke and 10 fin whales are taken from west coast waters and around 10 minkes are from east coast waters. Since the fishing industry is in decline including whaling, tourism is the only sector offering any near-term potential, and even this is limited due to the short season and high costs. The public sector plays a dominant role in Greenland's economy. Grants from mainland Denmark and EU fisheries payments make up about one-half of the home-rule government's revenues. Recently, Greenland has seen interest from other countries due to the possibilities of large amounts of natural resources, which include: coal, iron ore, lead, zinc, molybdenum, diamonds, gold, platinum, niobium, tantalite, uranium, fish, seals, whales, hydropower, possible oil and gas.
The Faroe Islands also depend almost entirely on fisheries, tourism and related exports. Without Danish Government bailouts in 1992 and 1993, the Faroese economy would have gone bankrupt. Since 1995, the Faroese economy has seen a noticeable upturn, but remains extremely vulnerable. Recent off-shore oil finds close to the Faroese area give hope for Faroese deposits, too, which may form the basis for an economic rebound over the longer term. Like Greenland, the Faroe Islands are also known for its whaling industry, around 950 long-finned pilot whales (Globicephala melaena) are caught each year, mainly during the summer. Other species are not hunted, though occasionally Atlantic white-sided dolphin can be found among the pilot whales. The hunt is known as the Grindadráp. The Faroese whaling industry has recently been under attack by the media because of the way it is generally perceived.
Neither Greenland, nor the Faroe Islands are members of the European Union. Greenland left the European Economic Community in 1986 and the Faroe Islands declined membership in 1973, when Denmark joined.
Table showing selected PPP GDPs and growth - 2002 to 2007 est.:
in billions of USD PPP
|% GDP Growth|
Denmark is home to many multi-national companies, among them:
- A. P. Moller-Maersk Group (Maersk — conglomerate: shipping, oil, retail)
- FLSmidth (global supplier of equipment and services to the cement and minerals industries)
- Rockwool mineral wool producer with production in around 15 countries, e.g. Canada
- Velux produces windows and skylights, owned by Villum Foundation
- ISS (facility services)
- Carlsberg (brewing company)
- Dansk Supermarked Group
- Daloon A/S, produces spring rolls and other frozen foods in Denmark and England
- Arla Foods (dairy)
- Danish Crown (meat products)
- Kopenhagen Fur (world's largest fur skin auction company), sells furs from a wide variety of animals, i.e. for the mink industry in Denmark and worldwide, an industry which benefits from the fishing industry in Denmark
- Danish Christmas Tree Growers Association representing Christmas tree production in Denmark
- Danfoss (climate & energy)
- Grundfos (the world's largest pump manufacturer)
- ECCO (shoe and leather accessories manufacturer and retailer)
- Lego (construction toys)
- NKT Cables Group A/S (Power cables and subsea umbilicals), owner of subsidiary Nilfisk-Advance
- Chr. Hansen (food ingredients and enzymes)
- Vestas (wind turbines)
- Siemens Wind Power (wind turbines)
- USTC (conglomerate: shipping, trading)
- Bang & Olufsen (hi-fi equipment)
- Dansac (owner Hollister Inc)
- Medical equipment companies:
- Pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies:
- Danske Bank commercial bank and mortgage lender
- Jyske Bank
- Saxo bank
- International companies such as:
- Big Mac Index
- Danish mortgage market
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