Economy of Denmark
With very few natural resources, the economy of Denmark relies almost entirely on human resources. The service sector makes up the vast amount of the employment and economy. Its industrialised market economy depends on imported raw materials and foreign trade. Within the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

, 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
Gini coefficient
The Gini coefficient is a measure of statistical dispersion developed by the Italian statistician and sociologist Corrado Gini and published in his 1912 paper "Variability and Mutability" ....

 - in the world, and the Danes devote 0.8% of Gross National Income
Gross National Income
The GNI consists of: the personal consumption expenditures, the gross private investment, the government consumption expenditures, the net income from assets abroad , and the gross exports of goods and services, after deducting two components: the gross imports of goods and services, and the...

 (GNI) to foreign aid.
With very few natural resources, the economy of Denmark relies almost entirely on human resources. The service sector makes up the vast amount of the employment and economy. Its industrialised market economy depends on imported raw materials and foreign trade. Within the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

, 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
Gini coefficient
The Gini coefficient is a measure of statistical dispersion developed by the Italian statistician and sociologist Corrado Gini and published in his 1912 paper "Variability and Mutability" ....

 - in the world, and the Danes devote 0.8% of Gross National Income
Gross National Income
The GNI consists of: the personal consumption expenditures, the gross private investment, the government consumption expenditures, the net income from assets abroad , and the gross exports of goods and services, after deducting two components: the gross imports of goods and services, and the...

 (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 others right to organise, thus, negotiate. The employer's right to hire and fire their employees whenever they find it necessary is recognised.

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. There are several hundred US-owned companies in Denmark, some of them just registered for tax purposes, which is beneficial for holding companies. Among major Danish exports to the U.S. are industrial machinery, chemical products, furniture, pharmaceuticals, lego and canned ham and pork.

Welfare state

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
Value added tax
A value added tax or value-added tax is a form of consumption tax. From the perspective of the buyer, it is a tax on the purchase price. From that of the seller, it is a tax only on the "value added" to a product, material or service, from an accounting point of view, by this stage of its...

 of 25% is levied on the sale of most goods and services (including groceries). The income tax in Denmark ranges from 42.9% 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 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
University of Copenhagen
The University of Copenhagen is the oldest and largest university and research institution in Denmark. Founded in 1479, it has more than 37,000 students, the majority of whom are female , and more than 7,000 employees. The university has several campuses located in and around Copenhagen, with the...

) Peter Birch Sørensen 27 May 2008 on the TV program Deadline (10.30 pm), channel DR2, the Danish Broadcasting Corporation.

Tax burden

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.


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
Eurostat is a Directorate-General of the European Commission located in Luxembourg. Its main responsibilities are to provide the European Union with statistical information at European level and to promote the integration of statistical methods across the Member States of the European Union,...

Economic and Monetary Union of the European Union
The Economic and Monetary Union is an umbrella term for the group of policies aimed at converging the economies of members of the European Union in three stages so as to allow them to adopt a single currency, the euro. As such, it is largely synonymous with the eurozone.All member states of the...

-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
Nordea Bank AB is a Stockholm-based financial services group operating in Northern Europe. The bank is the result of the successive mergers and acquisitions of the Swedish, Finnish, Danish and Norwegian banks of Nordbanken, Merita Bank, Unibank and Kreditkassen that took place between 1997 and 2000...

'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-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-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
Arbejdsmarkedets Tillægspension
Arbejdsmarkedets Tillægspension is a supplementary pension in Denmark, and is Denmark's largest lifelong pension plan. Citizens of Denmark become eligible for ATP payments as soon as they turn 65 years old. Arbejdsmarkedets Tillægspension was amended into law on March 7, 1964.-See...

 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
Counties of Denmark
Denmark was until December 31, 2006 divided into 15 counties , and 270 municipalities . On January 1, 2007, the counties were replaced by five Regions and the number of municipalities slashed to 98....

 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) (1978: 4,735;1998: 4,685; reduced somewhat in council elections November 2001 (Bornholm
Bornholm is a Danish island in the Baltic Sea located to the east of the rest of Denmark, the south of Sweden, and the north of Poland. The main industries on the island include fishing, arts and crafts like glass making and pottery using locally worked clay, and dairy farming. Tourism is...

)) 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) ending (except for Copenhagen
Copenhagen municipality
Copenhagen Municipality is the largest of the municipalities making up the city of Copenhagen. It lies at the center of Copenhagen and contains the old historic city....

, 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 peaked in the 1930s and was 1386 in 1962. 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.

Greenland and the Faroe Islands

Main articles: Economy of the Faroe Islands
Economy of the Faroe Islands
After the severe economic troubles of the early 1990s, brought on by a drop in the vital fish catch and poor management of the economy, the Faroe Islands have come back in the last few years, with unemployment down to 5% in mid-1998, and holding below 3% since 2006, one of the lowest rates in Europe...

  and Economy of Greenland
Economy of Greenland
The Economy of Greenland can be characterized as small, mixed and vulnerable. The present economy consists of a big public sector and comprehensive foreign trade, which has resulted in an economy with periods of strong growth, considerable inflation, unemployment problems and extreme dependence on...

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 industry and financial transfers from the Danish central government. Despite resumption of several interesting hydrocarbon and mineral
A mineral is a naturally occurring solid chemical substance formed through biogeochemical processes, having characteristic chemical composition, highly ordered atomic structure, and specific physical properties. By comparison, a rock is an aggregate of minerals and/or mineraloids and does not...

 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. 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.

The Faroe Islands also depend almost entirely on fisheries 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.

Neither Greenland, nor the Faroe Islands are members of the European Union. Greenland left the European Economic Community
European Economic Community
The European Economic Community The European Economic Community (EEC) The European Economic Community (EEC) (also known as the Common Market in the English-speaking world, renamed the European Community (EC) in 1993The information in this article primarily covers the EEC's time as an independent...

 in 1986 and the Faroe Islands declined membership in 1973, when Denmark joined.


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
The euro is the official currency of the eurozone: 17 of the 27 member states of the European Union. It is also the currency used by the Institutions of the European Union. The eurozone consists of Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg,...

 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.


Table showing selected PPP
Purchasing power parity
In economics, purchasing power parity is a condition between countries where an amount of money has the same purchasing power in different countries. The prices of the goods between the countries would only reflect the exchange rates...

 GDPs and growth - 2002 to 2007 est.:
Year GDP
in billions of USD PPP
% GDP Growth
2002 166.876 0.5
2003 170.798 0.7
2004 178.477 2.4
2005 187.721 3.1
2006 195.581 3.2
2007 212.404 1.8

Major companies

Denmark is home to many multi-national companies, among them:
  • A. P. Moller-Maersk Group (Maersk — conglomerate: shipping, oil, retail)
  • FLSmidth
    FLSmidth & Co. A/S is a global engineering company based in Copenhagen, Denmark. Employing about 11,300 people worldwide, it provides the global cement and mineral industries with plants, machinery, services and know-how. FLSmidth is listed on the Copenhagen Stock Exchange and has offices in more...

     (global supplier of equipment and services to the cement
    In the most general sense of the word, a cement is a binder, a substance that sets and hardens independently, and can bind other materials together. The word "cement" traces to the Romans, who used the term opus caementicium to describe masonry resembling modern concrete that was made from crushed...

     and minerals industries)
  • ISS
    ISS A/S
    ISS was founded in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1901 and has since grown to become one of the leading Facility Services companies in the world. ISS offers a wide range of services within the following business areas: cleaning services, support services, property services, catering services, security...

     (facility services)
  • Carlsberg (brewing company)
  • Arla Foods
    Arla Foods
    Arla Foods is a Swedish-Danish cooperative based in Århus, Denmark, and the largest producer of dairy products in Scandinavia. Arla Foods was formed as the result of a merger between the Swedish dairy cooperative Arla and the Danish dairy company MD Foods on 17 April 2000.Arla Foods is the seventh...

  • Danish Crown
    Danish Crown AmbA
    Danish Crown AmbA is a Danish food processing company, dealing primarily in meat processing of pork and beef. It is Europe's largest pork producer. Through its subsidiaries, known as the Danish Crown Group, it is also involved in a long list of other food products...

     (meat products)
  • Danfoss
    The Danfoss Group is a global producer of components and solutions for refrigeration & air conditioning, heating & water, and motion controls. Danfoss has net sales of €2,600 million and employs approximately 22,000 people worldwide with headquarters in Nordborg, Denmark.Danfoss was founded in...

     (climate & energy)
  • Grundfos
    Grundfos is one of the world's largest pump manufacturer, based in Denmark with more than 18,000 employees globally. The annual production of more than 12 million pump units, circulator pumps , submersible pumps , and centrifugal pumps is approximately 50% of the world market for these pumps...

     (the world's largest pump
    A pump is a device used to move fluids, such as liquids, gases or slurries.A pump displaces a volume by physical or mechanical action. Pumps fall into three major groups: direct lift, displacement, and gravity pumps...

  • Lego
    Lego is a line of construction toys manufactured by the Lego Group, a privately held company based in Billund, Denmark. The company's flagship product, Lego, consists of colorful interlocking plastic bricks and an accompanying array of gears, minifigures and various other parts...

     (construction toys)
  • Novozymes
    Novozymes is a biotech-based company, headquartered in Denmark and employing approximately 5,400 people in 30 countries. Novozymes A/S’ B shares are listed on the NASDAQ OMX Nordic.-Business areas:...

     (enzymes and biotech)
  • Chr. Hansen
    Chr. Hansen
    Chr. Hansen A/S is a global company based in Denmark which produces natural ingredients to the food, beverage, dietary supplements, and agricultural industries. The company is a leading supplier of food cultures, probiotics, enzymes and natural colors...

     (food ingredients and enzymes)
  • Vestas
    Vestas Wind Systems A/S is a Danish manufacturer, seller, installer, and servicer of wind turbines. It is the largest in the world, but due to very rapid growth of its competitors, its market share decreased from 28% in 2007 to 12.5% in 2009...

     (wind turbine
    Wind turbine
    A wind turbine is a device that converts kinetic energy from the wind into mechanical energy. If the mechanical energy is used to produce electricity, the device may be called a wind generator or wind charger. If the mechanical energy is used to drive machinery, such as for grinding grain or...

  • USTC (conglomerate: shipping, trading)
  • Bang & Olufsen
    Bang & Olufsen
    Bang & Olufsen is a Danish company that designs and manufactures audio products, television sets and telephones. It was founded in 1925 by Peter Bang and Svend Olufsen, whose first significant product was a radio that worked with alternating current, when most radios were run from batteries...

     (hi-fi equipment)
  • Pharmaceutical companies:
    • Lundbeck
      H. Lundbeck A/S is a Danish international pharmaceutical company engaged in the research and development, production, marketing, and sale of drugs for the treatment of disorders in the central nervous system , including depression, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease,...

    • Novo Nordisk
      Novo Nordisk
      Novo Nordisk manufactures and markets pharmaceutical products and services. Created in 1989 through a merger of two Danish companies dating back to the 1920s, it has become one of the world's leading companies in diabetes care, where Novo Nordisk pursues research into pulmonary delivery systems;...

  • International companies such as:
    • CSC
      Computer Sciences Corporation
      Computer Sciences Corporation is an American information technology and business services company headquartered in Falls Church, Virginia, USA...

    • Dell
      Dell, Inc. is an American multinational information technology corporation based in 1 Dell Way, Round Rock, Texas, United States, that develops, sells and supports computers and related products and services. Bearing the name of its founder, Michael Dell, the company is one of the largest...

    • Microsoft
      Microsoft Corporation is an American public multinational corporation headquartered in Redmond, Washington, USA that develops, manufactures, licenses, and supports a wide range of products and services predominantly related to computing through its various product divisions...

    • Nokia
      Nokia Corporation is a Finnish multinational communications corporation that is headquartered in Keilaniemi, Espoo, a city neighbouring Finland's capital Helsinki...

    • IBM
      International Business Machines Corporation or IBM is an American multinational technology and consulting corporation headquartered in Armonk, New York, United States. IBM manufactures and sells computer hardware and software, and it offers infrastructure, hosting and consulting services in areas...

    • Siemens
      Siemens may refer toSiemens, a German family name carried by generations of telecommunications industrialists, including:* Werner von Siemens , inventor, founder of Siemens AG...

See also

  • Big Mac Index
    Big Mac index
    The Big Mac Index is published by The Economist as an informal way of measuring the purchasing power parity between two currencies and provides a test of the extent to which market exchange rates result in goods costing the same in different countries...

  • Danish mortgage market
    Danish mortgage market
    The mortgage industry of Denmark has proved very effective in providing borrowers with flexible and transparent loans on conditions close to the funding conditions of capital market players. Simultaneously, the covered mortgage bonds transfer market risk from the issuing mortgage bank to bond...

  • Lists of countries
  • List of Danish companies

External links

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