It’s probably not a stretch to say the Danes are some of the more liberal people on the planet in many aspects.
But, according to a recent survey on Danish values, they are even more liberal and free-spirited than was the case before.
For instance, 58 percent of the population did not approve of casual sex in 1999 – a figure that dropped to just 28 percent in 2017.
Similar trends can be seen in other areas compared to 1981: far fewer Danes disapprove of abortion (down from 21 to 5 percent), divorce (down from 11 to 1 percent), homosexuality (down from 34 to 4 percent), cannabis consumption (down from 78 to 45 percent) and euthanasia (down from 18 to 6 percent) compared to 2017.
The figures are part of a soon-to-be-published book, ‘Usikker Modernitet: Danskernes værdier 1981-2017’ (‘Insecure Modernity: Danish values 1981-2017’), which was written by Morten Frederiksen, an associate professor at the Department of Sociology and Social Work at Aalborg University.
“It’s part of a bigger picture. Despite the impression one might glean from the press, the Danes are becoming more tolerant and free-spirited,” Frederiksen told DR Nyheder.
“There is a broader acceptance of pretty much being able to do whatever you like, as long as you don’t bother other people.”
Train over tax cheats
Frederiksen argues that the free-spiritedness is down to many cultural factors, but that probably the most important one is how Denmark is a very individualised country where rights are protected and people can live their lives as they wish.
Digging further into the findings, many Danes are adamant that people should pay their taxes and keep to the rules and laws, though perhaps not as vigilantly as before.
For instance, more Danes (up 11 percent) believe it is unacceptable to avoid paying their taxes than they did in 1981, but fewer disapprove of taking a bribe (down 2 percent), taking public transport without paying (down 14 percent) and wrongfully receiving social welfare benefits (down 13 percent).
“The public transport has lost some of its legitimacy because it has become worse, and social benefits are also something that is portrayed, by the media at least, as an area that has become tougher and where people are treated sternly,” said Frederiksen.