First official poverty line established

42,000 Danes are poor, according to a new definition that considers both income and assets

Denmark now has an official poverty threshold. From now on, those earning less than the median income of just over 103,000 kroner per year for three consecutive years and having less than 100,000 kroner in assets will be considered poor.

It is the first time such a definition has been established in Denmark, and it will be adopted by the Social Affairs Ministry as the official standard for defining who is poor. Based on statistics from 2010, this means just over 42,000 people currently live in poverty. 

“We now have a poverty line in Denmark and I am glad a number has been established,” the social affairs minister, Karen Hækkerrup, told Berlingske newspaper. “We have accepted the committee’s recommendations, but other factors will obviously be considered.”

The threshold was established by an expert committee set up by the government last year. Its calculation reflected figures released in September by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Committee chairperson, Torben M. Andersen, a leading economist, stressed income alone was not enough to completely define poverty. But he said that the definition provided “a more comprehensive picture of the poverty situation in Denmark”.

 ”We hope that it will help increase the focus on other factors like risk and deprivation,” Andersen told Berlingske newspaper.

Hækkerup said establishing the threshold would help bring efforts to reduce poverty.

“We are in the process of identifying risk and deprivation indicators, so the poverty threshold can be completely defined,” she told Belingske.

John Andersen, a professor at Roskilde University, called the poverty line “disappointing” but “a step in the right direction”.

“It is better than nothing, but it is a pretty narrow definition,” Andersen said. “Measuring gross income before taxes and expenses is pretty broad. Disposable income is much more relevant.”

Andersen said it was easy for someone to have almost no disposable income despite earning much more than 103,000 kroner per year.





  • How internationals can benefit from joining trade unions

    How internationals can benefit from joining trade unions

    Being part of a trade union is a long-established norm for Danes. But many internationals do not join unions – instead enduring workers’ rights violations. Find out how joining a union could benefit you, and how to go about it.

  • Internationals in Denmark rarely join a trade union

    Internationals in Denmark rarely join a trade union

    Internationals are overrepresented in the lowest-paid fields of agriculture, transport, cleaning, hotels and restaurants, and construction – industries that classically lack collective agreements. A new analysis from the Workers’ Union’s Business Council suggests that internationals rarely join trade unions – but if they did, it would generate better industry standards.

  • Novo Nordisk overtakes LEGO as the most desirable future workplace amongst university students

    Novo Nordisk overtakes LEGO as the most desirable future workplace amongst university students

    The numbers are especially striking amongst the 3,477 business and economics students polled, of whom 31 percent elected Novo Nordisk as their favorite, compared with 20 percent last year.