More opposed to working under the table

August 11th, 2013

This article is more than 11 years old.

Most say work should be reported, but the line separating a good neighbour from a dishonest tradesperson is in the eye of the beholder, poll shows

Nearly two-thirds of Danes think that it is unethical for workers to engage in under-the-table work for what is often called ‘black money’ (sort arbejde).  

According to a YouGov poll conducted for Kristeligt Dagblad newspaper, Danes are more opposed than ever to the idea of working under the table, but just exactly when the line is crossed from a favour to a job is a bit cloudy. Money made babysitting is fine, but a carpenter making the same amount should be reporting their earnings, according to those polled.

“Our studies support the idea that the acceptance of sort arbejde has dropped from 2005 until 2010, especially among young people,” Camilla Hvidtfeldt, a researcher for the Rockwool Foundation, told Kristeligt Dagblad.

Hvidtfeldt said, however, that she was surprised by the high number of those polled by YouGov who said they were opposed to under-the-table work. A poll by her own group in 2010 showed that 50 percent of Danes had used or engaged in the practice themselves.  

One of the reasons for the seeming double standard is that the tax authorities often define work as taxable that the average citizen sees as just friends helping friends.

Sanne Lund Clement, an associate professor of political science at Aalborg University, agreed.

“A person’s response to undeclared work very much depends on the individual case,” Clement told Kristeligt Dagblad.”If it is a huge amount, then most people think it is wrong, but if a friend paints a friend’s fence and makes a little money, most would not see that as a major problem.”

Clement said that more Danes are concerned about those who defraud the government for benefits than they are with those who get paid under the table for small-scale jobs. 


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