Policymakers short on occupational and educational experience

Analysis shows that Denmark more likely to be led by a career politician than other countries

According to recent findings from the Economist, all of Denmark’s prime ministers in the last 40 years have been professional politicians. But when it comes to a lack of real-world experience among Denmark's politicians, the trend doesn't stop at the top – it trickles down into officials in the financial sector as well. 

The Economist compiled information regarding the technical competence of political leaders across 40 countries since 1973. Of the countries surveyed, Denmark employed the highest number of politicians with no professional experience outside of politics.

“Policymakers with ‘technical competence’ are more likely to hold office during a crisis,” the Economist reported. “The authors found that a banking crisis increases the probability of having an economist as prime minister; a professor is more likely to hold the position during stock market crashes or inflation crises.”

But during the years surveyed, Denmark has employed neither a professor nor an economist to run the country.

While approximately 15 percent of the nation’s PMs were practising lawyers, none of them had worked as professors or economists before entering politics.

And the lack of experience continues into lower offices. Of the country’s finance ministers over the past four decades, only ten percent had worked as economists, while nearly 70 percent had worked only in politics.

Among the heads of Denmark's central bank, Nationalbanken, however, the trends changed. Nearly two-thirds had worked as professors, and approximately 70 percent as economists.

The survey reported that officials were significantly more qualified from an educational standpoint, however. Roughly a third of Danish PMs have held graduate degrees in economics, compared to 40 percent of finance ministers. Central bankers all held a graduate degree in economics or higher.

The Economist’s report comes several months after a report from Jyllands-Posten, noting that many of the country’s officials lack real-world experience to draw from when attempting to stimulate the job market. Of the nation’s 23 ministers, only 12 have over five years of real-world professional experience. Four ministers have less than five years of experience, while seven have none.