Poverty in Denmark
When most people picture poverty, they do not usually imagine Denmark. Denmark is an affluent, Scandinavian country renowned for its welfare state. Most Danish people and many people worldwide see Denmark as a model society to look to when dealing with poverty and creating a more egalitarian society. Yet, despite the programs in place to support its citizens, poverty in Denmark is still a problem. In a worrying trend, levels of poverty and inequality have been steadily rising in the last two decades.

A report from the Danish National Center for Social Research (SFI) says that the number of homeless people in Denmark has increased by 23% between 2009 and 2015. In 2015, estimates determined that there were 6,138 homeless people throughout the country, with the increase in homelessness greatest in people aged 25 to 29.

Changes to Welfare State Benefits

So, why are things suddenly changing in Denmark? The country still has a welfare state, so why do people lack financial security or even homes? The answer lies in reductions to social assistance programs that began in 2002 and left many Danes behind.

In 2002, the Liberal-Conservative government enacted changes, cutting significant social assistance benefits for specific groups, such as refugees, new immigrants and ethnic minorities. It pitched these changes as a part of immigration policy reform. However, these changes have had lasting impacts on the welfare system and on poverty in Denmark as a whole. The government justified the cuts to social assistance as necessary to increase immigrants’ and refugees’ incentive to find work.

Many within Denmark have seen the intention behind these reductions as a power play to show “outsiders” in Denmark that they would not receive equal treatment until they actively earned the right through work. Denmark has been a historically isolated and homogeneous society. Denmark’s coming to terms with newcomers has been, and continues to be, wrought with debate as to whether or not “foreigners” deserve to be a part of the welfare state. Refugees have fled to Denmark by the thousands, the numbers climbing from around 3,000 in 2011 to a peak of over 17,000 in 2015, before decreasing steadily each year afterward.

Who Does Poverty Affect?

There is a noticeable divide between the haves and the have nots in Danish society. Most Danes are well-off, do not struggle financially and have the assurance that their taxes will pay for their children’s higher education, most of their medical expenses and other basic necessities. Meanwhile, the poor are marginalized.

Poverty among some of the most vulnerable members of Danish society has risen. The makeup of the poor is mostly single mothers and families composed of refugees and immigrants. In fact, one-fifth of all homeless people are foreigners. Additionally, a whopping four out five homeless people have mental health or dependency issues and are not getting the help that they desperately need.

Poverty in Danish children provides many of the most devastating figures of poverty in Denmark. Child poverty increases by thousands every year. By 2017, there were about 64,500 children living in poverty. Not only are the children in poverty suffering, but childhood poverty has lasting effects that make it difficult for poor Danish children to prosper as adults. Studies confirm that Danish children who grow up in poverty will likely achieve less education. Moreover, they might receive a lower wage when they themselves enter the Danish job market. Child poverty in Denmark not only hurts Danish children in the present but Danish society in the future. Yet, many Danes continue to tout their welfare system without examining what needs fixing.

Falling Short

Though Denmark has lower levels of poverty than many other countries, its poverty demographic is changing and has been for the last two decades. These numbers call into question Denmark’s worldwide renown as an inclusive and dependable welfare state, and as a model that other nations should follow. Though most Danish politicians across party lines claim to support the welfare system, many support cuts to social assistance benefits. The leader of the Alternative Welfare Commission, Per Shulz Jorgensen claimed that “the welfare society is not living up to its own principles,” and as poverty climbs in the Danish welfare state, it would seem that he is right.

Caritas Denmark

The good news is that many NGOs have been taking action to help fight poverty in Denmark. Caritas Denmark has sought to empower poor people both in Denmark and around the world, running programs and giving relief to refugees worldwide. It is sending aid to communities that the Syrian civil war has affected as many refugees have fled from Syria to Denmark. Estimates have determined that it will provide health care and support to 12,886 people.

At home, Caritas Denmark runs programs focused on providing training to the poor and supporting integration projects for refugees in Denmark, as well as trying to prevent domestic disputes. It is addressing these issues to ensure that everyone has an equal chance of employment and housing, and an escape from poverty. As an affiliate of the Catholic Church of Denmark, Caritas Denmark works with 42 parishes and about 40,000 Catholics annually in Denmark. More work is necessary, but there are many Danes still fighting against poverty, both at its roots in the refugee crisis and at home through training and social programs for the poor.

Though Denmark has held on tightly to its status as one of the happiest countries on earth, poverty in Denmark must be reckoned with. Danish people have begun to admit that poverty is a growing issue within Denmark, with a 2008 poll finding that 59% of Danes polled believed the wealth gap between well-off Danes and Danes in poverty required reducing. Nonprofits, advocacy groups and the hope of possible government action to support the vulnerable and the poor show that there is still a possibility of curbing the growth of poverty in Denmark. This way, Denmark can aspire to be the happiest country on earth for all Danes.

– Julia Ortiz
Photo: Flickr

Although Denmark is known for its strong welfare state, homelessness is still a prevalent problem. The small country has taken steps to reduce the number of people that are homeless and have shared these steps with other European countries. However, there are still many ways that the country can continue to reduce its homeless population.

Homelessness in Denmark

  1. Homelessness in Denmark is growing. Approximately 0.12% of the Danish population suffers from acute homelessness and homelessness has increased over the past decade by 33%. The majority of those who are homeless are in Copenhagen.
  2. Denmark pioneered a program to end homelessness. From 2009 to 2013, the Danish Government developed a homelessness strategy called Housing First with four main goals. The goals were; no person should live a life on the street, young people should have an alternative solution to homeless hostels; a stay in a care home or shelter should last no longer than 3-4 months, those who can move out on their own with the necessary support should; and prison releases and hospital discharges should only happen when there is an accommodation solution in place.
  3. Homelessness in Copenhagen is de facto illegal. Denmark has not outlawed homelessness per se, but it has banned ‘insecurity creating camps’. However, Danish law enforcement has taken this to mean that homeless people create insecurity for those around them; rather than focusing on the insecurity homeless people might face they often give the homeless large fines. Jurist Maja Løvbjerg Hansen states that the homeless “may be in a hostel or shelter if they happen to stay there. They may be doing some shopping. They may be going to a doctor or a nurse. If they have work, they can do their job, and if they are in treatment for taking drugs or alcohol, they can come to town for the relevant meetings. But the ban means that they are not allowed to stay on the street or walk around without a purpose in the city – the zone – that they are banned from.”
  4. Youth are largely affected by homelessness. Over one-third of those who are homeless are under 30 and struggle to rise out of poverty because of current economic instability. In many cases, those that are homeless have mental illnesses or drug addictions, which requires additional assistance. Additionally, about 5% of all Danish children will be placed in out-of-home care. According to the Danish Center for Social Science Research, around 40% of these children will become homeless.
  5. Denmark has a newspaper produced by formerly homeless people. Hus Forbi was founded in August 1996 to give a voice to the homeless, which are typically excluded from the conversation surrounding Dutch politics. Homeless people also sell the newspaper as a legal way to make money.

Several NGOs help the Danish homeless population. The Alliance, A Home for All advocates for homeless people and works to create solutions for homeless people. Project UDENFOR also works to help the homeless by participating in on-the-street based work and through spreading knowledge collected through research. Additionally, a large number of homeless shelters throughout Denmark are operated by a number of NGOs to fill in the gaps that the Danish welfare state cannot cover.

– Julia Canzano

Photo: BigFoto

Sanitation in Denmark
Access to sanitation services is often restricted by socioeconomic status, even in the most developed countries in the world. Fortunately, Denmark is an example of a country that found ways to overcome the struggle for a clean environment among impoverished communities. Denmark uses different teams of environmental experts, new technologies and a preventative approach to pollution. This has led to success in providing sanitation and clean water to its citizens. Here are eight facts about sanitation in Denmark.

8 Facts About Sanitation in Denmark

  1. Poverty and sanitation are directly related. Denmark has a poverty rate of about 0.20%. Poverty can be linked to sanitation because lower-income means fewer options for water sources and hygiene products. A lower-income family living in an area with unclean water may not be able to afford bottled water. However, as described below, Denmark has taken steps to ensure that all of its citizens have access to clean water and sanitation.
  2. It is common to drink tap water in Denmark. Citizens of Denmark have no qualms about drinking straight out of their own sinks because the water is clean and trustworthy. Morten Kabell, Mayor of Technical and Environmental Affairs, even argues that public drinking water in Denmark is considered cleaner than bottled water. This reduces major costs to families who would otherwise need to buy their own water, which can trap someone in the cycle of poverty.
  3. Clean water became a cultural priority in the 1970s. Despite its current successes, Denmark’s history regarding clean water is not perfect. Before the 1970s, citizens of Copenhagen were often exposed to polluted water, which was unsafe for drinking and swimming. In 1971, Denmark established the Environmental Ministry, whose main task was to reduce pollution. The Ministry met with representatives from other countries the following year where they drew up the Stockholm Declaration. It is the first document recognizing access to a clean environment as a fundamental human right. Now, 50 years later, Copenhagen citizens of all socioeconomic statuses have access to clean resources.
  4. Denmark uses a prevention model, rather than a treatment model. When it comes to protecting its citizens from contamination by toxic substances, the Danish EPA’s policy is based on prevention instead of treatment. This means that while Denmark possesses the ability to monitor and decontaminate various forms of matter, its primary goal is to prevent contamination in the first place by reducing emissions of air pollutants and pollution of their water supply. As a result, low income communities are less likely to endure the negative effects of pollution. This allows them a more equal chance to climb the socioeconomic ladder.
  5. A majority of the population in Copenhagen sorts some types of waste. The latest reports on Copenhagen’s biowaste report that about 78% of residents in Copenhagen are willing to sort their biowaste. Beyond just recycling versus trash, the sorting system in Copenhagen often includes more detailed subcategories. The author of The Copenhagen Tales reported that it is typical for apartment buildings to have four categories for waste: paper, plastic, biodegradable and residual. Sorting biowaste is the norm in Copenhagen for citizens of all socioeconomic backgrounds. There is no clear link between income and recycling habits.
  6. Denmark hopes to recycle 70% of all waste by the year 2024. Denmark produces the most municipal waste (everyday trash) per person when compared to other European countries. However, in 2015, Denmark announced its plan to recycle 70% of all waste produced by 2024. While this is ambitious, the country has already begun using waste for more beneficial and sanitary purposes. For example, converting waste into fertilizer alternatives. This is important for the economy because many Danish people work in agriculture. In addition, Danish people who work in agriculture must expose themselves to potentially hazardous substances (like fertilizer) to make a living. Thus, the conversion of waste to fertilizer can decrease pollutant exposure in more vulnerable communities.
  7. All of the Danish population has access to sanitation services. According to a report from 2018, 100% of the people in Denmark use safely-managed sanitation services. This includes access to soap, clean water and a bath or shower. Because of its successes, Denmark’s poorer populations have a better chance of thriving.
  8. Denmark helps other countries with their sanitation problems. As Denmark has a reputation for its clean water access, countries have turned to Denmark for help. South Africa, for example, turned to Denmark during severe water shortages in 2015. Clean water was being wasted in many homes due to burst pipes and other structural issues, especially among lower-income communities. As a result, South Africa’s Water and Sanitation Minister met with Denmark’s Environment and Food Production Minister to solve the problem together. The two countries continue to cooperate in an effort to manage water and sanitation.

The triumphs of sanitation in Denmark are one example of how taking care of basic needs can improve the lives of people across the socioeconomic spectrum. With cleaner water, air and other resources, impoverished people have a better chance of avoiding disease, death, injury and developmental problems that perpetuate the cycle of poverty. The successes of sanitation in Denmark overlap with their economical successes and their hope for the future.

Levi Reyes
Photo: Flickr

Seven Facts about Healthcare in Denmark
Denmark is a country in Northern Europe. It is one of the wealthiest countries in the world and is notable for its healthcare. In addition, the Social Progress Index 2017 rated Denmark first in the world for quality of life. Denmark also scored 99.28% in nutrition and basic medical care. Here are seven facts about healthcare in Denmark.

7 Facts About Healthcare in Denmark

  1. All citizens in Denmark enjoy universal, equal and free healthcare services. Citizens have equal access to treatment, diagnosis and choice of hospital under health insurance group one. Healthcare services include primary and preventive care, specialist care, hospital care, mental health care, long-term care and children’s dental services. However, citizens are able to buy customized insurance under health insurance group two.
  2. Denmark organizes child healthcare into primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare systems. The primary level is free for all Danish citizens. However, there are unsolved problems in Denmark’s child healthcare. Problems include the increasing costs of children’s medical services, limited professional human resources and insufficient coverage of child immunization. In fact, in 2014, Denmark had the lowest childhood immunization coverage in Europe, leading to measles outbreaks.
  3. Tax revenue funds healthcare in Denmark. The state government, regions and municipalities operate the healthcare system and each sector has its own role. The state government creates general healthcare plans and regulations and allocates funding. Meanwhile, regions and municipalities are responsible for making specific plans according to sociodemographic criteria. Regions are in charge of hospital care, while municipalities are responsible for home care, prevention, rehabilitation and public health.
  4. The healthcare system runs more effectively than other developed countries, such as the U.S. and other European countries. For instance, experts attribute low mortality in Denmark to its healthcare success. Health expenditure is high in Denmark, as the country spends 10.3% of its GDP on healthcare services. In 2014, the amenable mortality rate in Denmark was one of the lowest in the E.U. This indicates that healthcare in Denmark has proven successful. Moreover, Denmark spends relatively less money on healthcare in comparison to the USA. In 2016, the U.S. spent 17.21% of its GDP on healthcare, while Denmark only spent 10.37%. By contrast, in 2015, the life expectancy at birth in Denmark was 80.8 years, yet it was 78.8 years in the U.S. Once again, healthcare spending in Denmark proves itself to be very effective.
  5. The high-quality healthcare system increases life expectancy. Danish life expectancy slightly exceeds the average of the E.U. The overall life expectancy of Danish citizens is 81.3 years. However, Danish women have a higher life expectancy than men. A 65-year-old Danish woman can expect to live almost another 20.7 years and men another 18 years.
  6. Cancer and cardiovascular diseases are the top two causes of death. In 2014, cancer accounted for 29% of female mortality, and cardiovascular diseases accounted for 24%. As for men, cancer accounted for 32% of mortality and cardiovascular diseases caused 25%. Other illnesses deplete the quality of life in Denmark as well. Chronic diseases like musculoskeletal problems and depression are not necessarily killers but lead to poor health.
  7. Healthcare in Denmark sets a good example for elderly care in other countries. A large percentage of the population is aging, as 19% of Danish citizens are above 65 years old. Danish senior citizens have the right to enjoy home care services for free, including practical help and personal care, if they are unable to live independently. Similarly, preventive measures and home visits can help citizens above 80 years old to plan their lives and care. In addition, the members of Senior Citizen Councils, which guarantee the healthcare rights of senior citizens, are citizens who are more than 60 years old.

Overall, healthcare in Denmark is high quality and provides general, equal and free services to all citizens. However, the Danish healthcare system is not perfect, and some citizens experience poor health. With stable wealth and advanced technology, Denmark has the potential to solve its healthcare challenges and continue to provide quality services to its citizens.

– Yilin Che
Photo: Flickr

Best Poverty Reduction Programs
In the global fight against poverty, there have been countless programs to effectively downsize this issue. Poverty reduction programs are an important part of the fight against poverty and because of this, countries should be able to cooperate and learn from one another. Thankfully, with the help of the U.N., the world has been making progress in terms of cooperating to implement good poverty reduction programs. In no particular order, these are the five countries with some of the best poverty reduction programs.

Five Countries with the Best Poverty Reduction Programs

1. China

For the Middle Kingdom, poverty reduction is a key contributing factor to its rapidly growing economy. China has helped reduce the global rate of poverty by over 70 percent, and according to the $1.90 poverty line, China has lifted a total of 850 million people out of poverty between 1981 and 2013. With this, the percentage of people living under $1.90 in China dropped from 88 percent to less than 2 percent in 32 years. China’s poverty reduction programs have also benefitted people on a global scale by setting up assistance funds for developing countries and providing thousands of opportunities and scholarships for people in developing countries to receive an education in China.

2. Brazil

Brazil has taken great steps in reducing poverty and income inequality. Brazil has implemented programs such as the Bolsa Familia Program (Family Grant Program) and Continuous Cash Benefit. Researchers have said that the Family Grant Program has greatly reduced income disparity and poverty, thanks to its efforts of ensuring that more children go to school. They have also said that beneficiaries of this program are less likely to repeat a school year. Meanwhile, the Continuous Cash Benefit involves an income transfer that targets the elderly and the disabled.

3. Canada

Canada has implemented poverty reduction programs such as the Guaranteed Income Supplement and the National Housing Strategy. The Guaranteed Income Supplement is a monthly benefit for low-income senior citizens. This program helped nearly 2 million people in 2017 alone. Meanwhile, the National Housing Strategy in an investment plan for affordable housing that intends to help the elderly, people fleeing from domestic violence and Indigenous people. With its poverty reduction programs in place, Canada reportedly hopes to cut poverty in half by 2030.

4. United States

Although the United States has a long way to go when it comes to battling poverty, it does still have its poverty reduction programs that have proven to be effective. According to the Los Angeles Times, programs such as Social Security, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the Earned Income Tax Credit and food stamps have all helped to reduce deep poverty. In particular, people consider the Earned Income Tax Credit to be helpful for families that earn roughly 150 percent of the poverty line, approximately $25,100 for a four-person family. Social Security could help reduce poverty among the elderly by 75 percent.

5. Denmark

Denmark has a social welfare system that provides benefits to the unemployed, the disabled and the elderly, among others. People in Denmark are generally in good health and have low infant mortality rates. Denmark also has public access to free education, with most of its adult population being literate.

It should be stressed that none of these countries are completely devoid of poverty, but they do provide some good examples of how governments can go about reducing this issue. With the help of organizations like the USAID, it is clear that this is an issue many take seriously.

Adam Abuelheiga
Photo: Flickr

Smoking in Developing Countries
Smoking rates among adults and children in developing countries have been increasing for years. In developed nations, such as the United States, people have implemented certain policies in order to increase taxes and therefore reduce tobacco consumption, successfully. Such policies have not yet enacted in areas of extreme poverty around the world. In fact, tobacco companies have responded by flooding low-income areas with reduced-priced cigarettes, tons of advertisements and an excessive number of liquor stores and smoke shops. It is time to have a conversation about smoking rates in developing countries and whether or not tobacco control policies are the best approach long-term, worldwide. Here are the top 6 facts about smoking in developing countries.

Top 6 Facts About Smoking in Developing Countries

  1. Smoking affects populations living in extreme poverty differently than it does those in wealthy areas. Stress is a harmful symptom of poverty and contributes to smoking rates in low-income areas. Oftentimes living in poverty also means living in an overcrowded, polluted area with high crime and violence rates and a serious lack of government or social support. Stress and smoking are rampant in these areas for a reason. It is also important to note that smoking wards off hunger signals to the brain which makes it useful for individuals to maintain their mental health of sorts if food is not an option.
  2. Smoking rates are much higher among men than women across the globe. While the relative statistics vary from country to country, smoking rates among women are very low in most parts of Africa and Asia but there is hardly any disparity in smoking rates between men and women in wealthy countries such as Denmark and Sweden. The pattern of high smoking rates among men remains prevalent worldwide. One can equally attribute this to two factors that go hand-in-hand: the oppression of women and the stress that men receive to provide with their families.
  3. The increase in smoking rates in developing countries also means an outstanding number of diseases and death. The good news is that countries have succeeded in reducing consumption by raising taxes on the product. Price, specifically in the form of higher taxes, seems to be one of the only successful options in terms of cessation. Legislation banning smoking in certain public spaces is one example of an effort that places a bandaid on the problem instead of addressing the root cause. There is no data that shows a direct correlation between non-smoking areas and quitting rates among tobacco users.
  4. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports an estimated 6 million deaths per year which one can attribute to smoking tobacco products. It also estimates that there will be about another 1 billion deaths by the end of this century. Eighty percent of these deaths land in low-income countries. The problem at hand is determining how this part of the cycle of poverty can change when it has been operating in favor of the upper class for so long.
  5. Within developing countries, tobacco ranks ninth as a risk factor for mortality in those with high mortality and only ranks third in those with low mortality. This means that there are still countries where other risk factors for disease and death are still more prominent than tobacco use, but that does not mean that tobacco is not a serious health concern all over the world. Of these developing countries, tobacco accounts for up to 16 percent of the burden of disease (measured in years).
  6. China has a higher smoking rate than the other four countries ranked highest for tobacco use combined. The government sells tobacco and accounts for nearly 10 percent of central government revenue. In China, over 50 percent of the men smoke, whereas this is only true for 2 percent of women. China’s latest Five-Year Plan (2011 – 2015) called for more smoke-free public spaces in an attempt to increase life expectancy. A pack of Marlboro cigarettes in Beijing goes for 22元, which is equivalent to $3. This is far cheaper than what developed countries charge with taxes. This continual enablement is a prime example of why smoking rates in developing countries are such a problem. While many people mistake China for a developed nation because it has the world’s second-largest economy and third-largest military, it is still a developing country.

In countries like China where smoking rates are booming and death tolls sailing, tobacco control policies may not be the best solution. While raising taxes to reduce consumption may seem like a simple concept, when applied to real communities, a huge percentage of people living in poverty with this addiction will either be spending more money on tobacco products or suffering from withdrawals. While it might be easy for many people to ignore the suffering of the other, in this case, a lower-class cigarette smoker, one cannot forget how the cycle of poverty and addiction and oppression has influenced their path in life.

Helen Schwie
Photo: Flickr

The International Commitment for Foreign Aid SpendingCurrently, there is an international commitment among developed countries to spend 0.7 percent of their Gross National Income (GNI) on foreign aid. The goal for this aid is to assist the world’s poorest countries in developing sustainably. However, the majority of the richest countries in the world have not met this commitment. In fact, the United States ranked last in 2018 (27th) on the Commitment to Development Index (CDI) after only spending 0.18 percent on foreign aid. While the U.S. is reducing foreign aid spending, four countries are choosing to invest even more into developing countries than international commitment. They are doing so not only for humanitarian reasons but for strategic reasons as well.

Here are the four countries exceeding the international commitment for foreign aid spending.

4 Countries Exceeding the Commitment for Foreign Aid Spending

  1. Denmark – In 2018, Denmark allocated 0.72 percent of its GNI to foreign aid. The majority of this amount took the form of bilateral aid, which means Denmark provided aid directly to foreign governments rather than international organizations. With its commitment to foreign aid spending, the country seeks to enhance its soft power and to reduce immigration to Denmark. Development Minister of Denmark Ulla Tørnæs stated, “Through our development work, we create better living conditions, growth and jobs in some of the world’s poorest countries and thereby help prevent migration.”
  2. Norway – Norway spent 1 percent of its GNI on foreign aid in 2018. Although the country directed a higher percentage of its GNI to foreign aid than Denmark, Norway’s quality of foreign aid is not as strong. According to the Center for Global Development, the country’s aid score has declined due to struggles in the transparency and learning categories. According to Børge Brende, the Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway, foreign aid spending enhances Norway’s soft power and national security interests. Additionally, the promotion of business development in foreign countries “is a good example of how aid can be used as a catalyst to mobilize other, larger flows of capital.”
  3. Luxemburg – Luxemburg spent 1 percent of its GNI on foreign aid in 2018. Luxemburg’s aid score is quite high, ranking fifth out of 27 among CDI countries. As explained by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), efficient bilateral foreign aid spending “enables Luxembourg to maximize its visibility, impact and international influence.” Currently, Luxemburg focuses its foreign aid spending in sub-Saharan Africa due to its particularly high rates of poverty.
  4. Sweden – At 1.01 percent, Sweden ranks first amongst developed nations for the highest percent of GNI directed towards foreign aid. Foreign aid has become a primary focus for Sweden due to the high influx of immigrants Sweden has taken in within the past few years. Like Denmark, Sweden sees foreign aid as an opportunity to reduce the inflow of immigrants by improving the economic conditions and overall wellbeing of developing countries. This high level of foreign aid spending is one of the main reasons why Sweden ranked eighth in the world in terms of soft power in 2018. In that sense, foreign aid spending is a long-term investment for Sweden because it helps Sweden manage immigration flow, build up the global economy and increase its influence on foreign countries. Since Sweden views foreign aid as an investment, the country heavily focuses on learning about the effectiveness of its foreign aid spending in order to maximize results.

Denmark, Norway, Luxemburg and Sweden all demonstrate that foreign aid spending is in the national interest of developed nations. Since these countries do not perceive foreign aid spending as a mere charity, they have become more incentivized than most other developed countries to provide high-quality aid.

– Ariana Howard
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Denmark
The scientific world has highlighted six lifestyle values that a country needs to be happy: high income, trust, social support, freedom, healthy life expectancy and generosity. Based on these metrics, Denmark has consistently ranked as one of the best places to live in the world. Here are the top 10 facts about living conditions in Denmark.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Denmark

  1. Denmark’s average household income is $28,950 a year which is slightly below the OECD average. However, 75 percent of the working populations have a paying job, which exceeds the OECD average of 67 percent.
  2. Denmark is a civically engaged country and the government shows concern for citizens’ needs. While 86 percent of the registered population votes, the government extended inclusivity by creating programs like MindLab. MindLab works with the Danish government to receive feedback from citizens on newly adopted procedures to make them convenient and more efficient.
  3. Denmark’s biking culture makes the country an environmentally-friendly place to live. In Copenhagen, Denmark’s largest city, about 35 percent of adults bike to and from work and 55 percent of children bike to and from school. Cycling policies, lanes and bridges have made it one of the most bike-friendly cities in the world.
  4. College-aged students do not have to worry about student loans. College students are provided with a stipend of $900 a month provided that they are currently enrolled in college and that they do not live with their parents. This program provides all students with equal opportunity to study, regardless of their financial background.
  5. Denmark is considered a safe and non-violent country. In a study of 351 participants, about 89 percent said they felt comfortable walking around Denmark during the day. Another 74 percent said they felt safe walking alone during the night.
  6. In the early 2000s, drug-related deaths in Denmark were consistently above 100 per year. In 2012, the number of drug-related deaths finally declined after the legalization of drug consumption rooms (DCRs). DCRs provide users with a safe and hygienic place to inject drugs, as well as counseling and health clinics. The legalization of these facilities has not only decreased the number of drug-related deaths in Denmark but also kept drug use out of Danish homes and neighborhoods.
  7. Health care in Denmark is free for all registered citizens. The national government oversees general plans, and five regions manage and finance the hospitals. Universal access to health care in Denmark is made possible by the national health tax, which claims 8 percent of taxable incomes.
  8. Salaries in Denmark are taxed at over 50 percent, which is more than double the worldwide average of 22.96 percent. Part of these heavy taxes contributes to housing benefits for senior citizens.
  9. Denmark’s welfare system has served as a global example for many years. However, the gap between the richest and poorest Danes has recently grown. A study by Ugebrevet A4 showed that 59 percent of Danes believe that the gap needs to shrink. Some claim that Denmark has deserted its solidarity principles altogether, increasing the number of impoverished Danes.
  10. Since 2005, Denmark has seen improvements in gender equality. After Sweden, the country scores the best out of all European Union countries in the Gender Equality Index. Denmark does especially well in creating equality when caring for children. Parental leave can be evenly split between two partners, regardless of their sex.

The top 10 facts about living conditions in Denmark listed above point to the nation’s strengths. And while no country is perfect, the Danish lifestyle’s prioritization of well being has resulted in Denmark being consistently recognized as one of the top 10 happiest places in the world since the release of the first World Happiness Report in 2012.

– Mary Clare Novak
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in Denmark
Denmark is one of the richest countries in the world, with a GDP per capita of $56,307.51 in 2017. It is also ranked one of the most food secure nations worldwide, according to the Global Food Security Index. Here are the top 10 facts about hunger in Denmark.

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in Denmark

  1. The first of the top 10 facts about hunger in Denmark is that the country only wastes around 700,000 tonnes of food per year. The U.S., on the other hand, wastes 150,000 tonnes of food each day. This is equivalent to about a pound of food per person each day. Thus, on a global scale, Denmark is very sustainable which helps prevent widespread hunger in the country, as a significant portion of food that is not consumed is donated to food initiatives.
  2. Denmark has more initiatives against food waste in Europe than any other country — from awareness campaigns, partnerships to government subsidies. This is due in large part to a lobbying group set up by Selina Juul, called Stop Spilf Af Mad which translates to “stop wasting food”. The campaign was inspired by Juul’s experience growing up in Moscow, where she frequently experienced food shortages and bread lines which made her appalled to see food wastage in Denmark.
  3. Denmark is classified as a “strong country” in terms of food security by the Global Food Security Index, receiving a score of 80.9 out of a possible 100 for 2018. The country scored 100 points out of 100 for the presence of food safety net programs and 100 out of 100 for nutritional standards.
  4. Another one of the top 10 facts about hunger in Denmark is that WeFood, a Danish charity, opened the world’s first food waste supermarket in a low-income neighborhood in Copenhagen in 2016. It sells food at prices 30 to 50 percent less than an ordinary supermarket and was so popular that a second store in the more upscale area of Nørrebro. The project attracts both eco-conscious and cash-strapped shoppers on a limited budget.
  5. Denmark recently announced a plan to double the amount of organic farmland by 2020 and earmarked approximately $60 million to initiate the effort to increase organic food production and supply. The country’s minister of agriculture is also committed to boosting the amount of organic food served in public institutions while the Ministry of Defense has also pledged to reciprocate this action at its bases.
  6. A study done by the London School of Economics found that the impact of rising unemployment and decreasing wages were countered by social protection spending. For every additional $1,000 spent on social protection, the impact that rising unemployment had on food security fell by 0.05 percent. When social protection spending is above $10,000 per capita as found in countries such as Denmark, the effects of unemployment and wage deflation become less significant.
  7. There is a 0 percent prevalence rate of moderate to severe stunting in Denmark and the proportion of households consuming iodized salt also stands at 0 percent.
  8. One of the reasons that Denmark is so food secure is because it can produce an excess of agricultural resources such as crops, forestry and fisheries. This allows the country to stock its food banks and stockpiles of food which allows it to be self-reliant and not dependent on international organizations for aid.
  9. Danish citizens also have access to a multitude of welfare services which consolidate their food security. The VAT system funds the welfare system. This welfare system is known as the ADRA, where the organization emphasizes the policy importance of increasing food supply, incomes and savings for food purchasing.
  10. The last of the top 10 facts about hunger in Denmark is that 6 percent of 11-year-olds reported “always” going to bed hungry, 4 percent of 13-year-olds and 4.5 percent of 15-year-olds. Compared to Greenland, where 11.1 percent of 11-year-olds always go to bed hungry, Denmark has been successful in creating a state where hunger does not pose a significant problem.

– Maneesha Khalae
Photo: Flickr

Trampolinehuset (Trampoline House).
In 2017, Denmark received 3,479 applications for asylum. This was the lowest number of applications in the past nine years. The chance for refugees to gain asylum also decreased. In 2015, 85 percent of applicants received asylum and three years later, that number is 58 percent.

Asylum seekers and refugees are also facing a harder time in Denmark than in past years. However, there are several nongovernmental organizations working to help asylum seekers and refugees find a path to residency. One of these organizations is known as the Trampolinehuset (Trampoline House).

The Trampoline House

Founded in 2010, the Trampoline House provides a variety of services for asylum seekers and refugees in Denmark to help them with the process of integrating, navigating the process of gaining residency and providing them with a community and space to relax from the stress that comes from the asylum seeking process. However, those who seek the help of the Trampoline House are expected to help contribute to maintaining the house and help build a community for themselves and other asylum seekers.

The Trampoline House aims to create a community of Danish citizens, refugees, asylum seekers, and everybody else who calls Denmark home. This requires an effort from all parties involved to participate in maintaining a community. The staff is made up of both Danish citizens and migrants, and community meetings are held frequently so that members can share their thoughts and concerns.

Specific resources that the Trampoline House provides include child care, language classes, cooking, a women’s group, medical and legal counseling, art exhibitions and dance parties. Some of these programs are run or were proposed by refugees themselves.

Refugees Problems

The Trampoline House mainly focuses on providing help to asylum seekers and refugees because there is a large number of these people that remain in asylum camps across Denmark. In January 2018, 5,000 people were in centers. A majority of them still had cases pending from immigration services. However, 16 percent of them were rejected and remained living in deportation centers.

People who have been denied by the state remain in these centers until they can leave, but many of them do not even have the opportunity to do so. In the deportation centers, asylum seekers and refugees are not allowed to cook, have inadequate health care and are located in desolate areas where it is hard for them to travel anywhere. Essentially, the camps are designed to make people leave, but people cannot do this due to political oppression or violence in their home countries.

Trampoline House Services

Trampoline House offers services specifically to refugees and asylum seekers that are denied. For example, doctors will volunteer to have check-ups for members of the house and provide them with the medical care they might need. Currently, medical services are restrictive in detention centers and only allowed for urgent cases.

As mentioned earlier there is a kitchen for members to cook in, since they are not allowed to make food for themselves in the camp. The food that they are served in camps is barely edible and is not diversified, meaning it is mostly consisted out of Danish dishes.

The Trampoline House also aims to raise awareness about the migration crisis and migrant rights in Denmark through the Center for Art on Migration Politics (CAMP) program. The program hosts exhibitions, education programs and releases publications about migration and the struggles that migrants face in Denmark.

While the number of refugees and asylum seekers that are arriving in Denmark is declining, it is important to ensure all of them have services to help guide them through the immigration process and a community where they can feel welcomed.

Trampoline House is one of the many nongovernmental organization working to provide them with a sense of belonging and comfort in what can be a stressful and confusing process.

– Drew Garbe

Photo: Flickr