Richest Danes own almost half of Denmark

On average, the wealthiest 10 percent own 47.3 percent of the total net wealth

If there was ever any doubt that the wealth disparity between the wealthy and the poor wasn’t an issue in Denmark, then a new report by the economic council of the labour movement, Arbejderbevægelsens Erhvervsråd (AE), will surely lay those claims to rest.

The report (here in Danish) found that, on average, the wealthiest 10 percent own 47.3 percent of the total net wealth of the country. Meanwhile, the poorest 50 percent of Danes own just 5 percent of the total net wealth.

“Everywhere we see tendencies to liberalise and let market mechanisms be in control. That has disparity-creating consequences to income, but certainly also to wealth,” Henning Jørgensen, a professor at Aalborg University, told Ugebladet A4.

“It’s not just refugees and immigrants who live in ghettos. It’s also the rich, who are increasingly fencing themselves off in their own ghettos. It’s becoming an ‘every-man-for-himself’ situation and not a society.”

AE’s calculations also found that the richest 10 percent of Danes have an average net wealth of 5.4 million kroner, while the poorest 10 percent owed more in debt than they owned – on average a negative net wealth of 376,000 kroner.

READ MORE: Denmark’s wealth inequality gap continues to widen

Rich man’s Copenhagen
According to Lars Olsen, who has written a number of books on the widening disparity gap in Denmark, in 1985 there were only six areas in Denmark that were dominated by the elite classes. By 2014, that number had increased to 45 areas, 41 of which were located in the Capital Region.

“If you look at the housing areas in the Capital Region, you can see that it takes significant wealth to live in some districts because the housing prices are so expensive,” Olsen told Ugebladet A4.

“Only those who are already wealthy are able to afford to move in. And that creates a more divided society because we get neighbourhoods that are enclaves for people who earn well and have great wealth.”

Meanwhile, several opposition parties, including Socialdemokratiet and Socialistisk Folkeparti, fear the government’s recent 2018 Budget Proposal will only serve to further widen the wealth gap.

Government party Liberal Alliance and think-tank CEPOS agree there are points in the proposal that will increase disparity, but contend that ultimately it will be “unproblematic”.

Still, Denmark has a long way to go to catch up with the US where the richest 1 percent own 43 percent of the total net wealth of the country, and the next richest 19 percent a further 50 percent, leaving just 7 percent of the wealth to the remaining 80 percent.