First official poverty line established

June 10th, 2013

This article is more than 10 years old.

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.


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