Immigrants overrepresented in unemployment benefit statistics

Opposition calling for tougher legislation

The number of married couples who both receive the unemployment benefit kontanthjælp has skyrocketed in recent years, and immigrants and their descendants are vastly overrepresented in the statistics.

According to figures from the Employment Ministry as of June, eight out of every ten married couples who both receive kontanthjælp were immigrants or the descendants of immigrants.

“The effect of increasing the financial incentive for the people in this small group to work is small, and it won't solve the problem in the short-term,” Andreas Højbjerre, an analyst from the Nordic socioeconomic and policy consultancy firm Damvad, told Jyllands-Posten newspaper.

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More education the solution
Opposition parties have called for a reintroduction of the kontanthjælp limit: the '225-hour rule' that requires kontanthjælp recipients to document they have worked at least 225 hours over the year in order to receive it – the equivalent of six weeks of full-time work or five hours a week. Failure to do so would result in the termination of the benefit.

Pernille Rosenkrantz-Theil, the head of parliament's employment committee, rejected the notion the government's discontinuation of the rule in 2012 is responsible for the development. She argued the solution is more education, not tougher legislation.

In June, there were 6,084 married couples on kontanthjælp in Denmark.