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

international poverty line

Pinning down the definition of poverty is essential for the multitude of global organizations looking to improve the well-being of the global population. Measuring just income can leave out information about a community’s environment.

The World Bank’s International Poverty Line

The World Bank’s International Poverty Line is one of the most popular measures of poverty for all kinds of relief organizations. Between 2008 and 2015, this measure was defined as those individuals living on less than $1.25 a day. By this measure, “just over 900 million people globally lived under this line in 2012” and projections for 2015 pin the amount as  over 700 million.

Last year September, the International Poverty Line was moved up to $1.90 a day to account for inflation and the cost of goods in various countries.

When an organization redefines the way poverty is assessed, it can change the people whom it targets and the scope of its operations. In that way, adjusting the parameters needs to be a careful, precise process in which the target population is not misrepresented.

How Is It Used?

The World Bank uses an International Poverty Line measuring an individual’s daily purchase power so that it can gauge the population who can meet their “minimum nutritional, clothing and shelter needs” in their country. Using an average of various national poverty lines, the international financial group generates its International Poverty Line from calculations involving purchasing power parity exchange rates.

A Project Syndicate article, however, reported on the Spring Meetings in Washington D.C. in which the World Bank would begin “[recommending] additional metrics.” The establishment of the Commission on Global Poverty will research new ways to assess the quality of life that look beyond income.

The author of the article mentions an analysis done at Fundacion Paraguaya, a Paraguayan organization which spearheads “Poverty Spotlight.”

This initiative uses the power of data to help “families self-assess their level of poverty in 50 indicators grouped into 6 dimensions of poverty which are: Income & Employment, Health & Environment, Housing & Infrastructure, Education & Culture, Organization & Participation and Interiority & Motivational.”

Poverty Spotlight’s approach allows for a customized solution to the specific situation in which a family might find themselves. In addition, Fundacion Paraguaya says that the method “breaks down the often ‘overwhelm’ concept of poverty into a series of smaller manageable poverty problems.” In more ways than one, relief becomes more of a system of change than a cash donation.

Reshaping Poverty Relief Campaigns

The World Bank’s efforts to research assessment methods using multidimensional analysis could reshape poverty relief campaigns across the globe. Adopting an indicator like the Social Progress Index could change how societies are viewed. According to this measurement, the United States is ranked 16th in the world while Norway and Sweden are ranked 1st and 2nd.

The International Poverty Line will be reevaluated this month by the Commission on Global Poverty. No matter what is deemed important in rating living conditions, the goal of reducing the resulting number will prevail.

Jacob Hess

Photo: Flickr


The gross domestic product (GDP) has become the primary way to evaluate how countries are doing. However, the Social Progress Index, launched in 2014 by the Social Progress Imperative, aims to provide a more comprehensive picture.

By only looking at the monetary value of goods and services produced within a country, it is easy for data to be skewed or not reflect the full picture. The GDP could be easily skewed by income inequality; consequently, developing countries with high levels of corruption or income equality would be seen as doing better than they actually are.

Purchases made on the black market and payments for cars and appliances besides original down payments are not included, even though this money is used for goods and services. Furthermore, goods produced but not necessarily sold are counted into the GDP, even if the products are sitting in a company warehouse.

The Social Progress Index looks at twelve different components within three different categories: Basic Human Needs, Foundations of Well-Being and Opportunity. In comparison with the GDP rankings, there are a few rankings that shouldn’t be a surprise: Norway, Sweden and Switzerland are the top three; all of the Scandinavian countries are in the top ten.

However, there are countries that, based on GDP, one might expect to be more highly ranked. The United States is sixteenth, China doesn’t break the top seventy and no Middle Eastern oil-producing country is ranked above 35.

Countries many consider to be more developing, such as Panama, Colombia and Malaysia, are in the top fifty countries. Ghana is ranked significantly higher than Nigeria, although they have similar GDPs.

To better understand these rankings, the Social Progress Index also includes scorecards for each country and categorizes elements of the data as either relative strengths or weaknesses.

China, for example, has many relative weaknesses in factors contributing to opportunity, including perceived criminality, political freedoms, average years women spend in school and private property rights. For the United States, freedom over life choices, maternal and child mortality rates and community safety net were among the relative weaknesses.

The Social Progress Index Rankings have much to offer organizations at all levels with regards to information and comparison building. This information can be used to help shape policy, guide partnerships and raise awareness on what can be improved in different countries.

Regardless, the Social Progress Imperative’s Social Progress Index, like other indices such as the OECD Better Life Index, raises important questions as to what individuals consider developed versus developing.

Looking at the Social Progress Index and the GDP, the differences between the more holistic Social Progress Index and the money-focused GDP are vast, thus supporting previous research and theories that place well-being at an individual or community level at equal or greater value to economic output.

Priscilla McCelvey

Sources: Quora, Social Progress Imperative, TED
Photo: Pixabay

Almost everyone is familiar with the term “Gross Domestic Product,” or “GDP,” a yardstick against which the progress and development of nations is measured. It is defined as the monetary value of all goods and services created within a country in a time period.

But, as Robert F. Kennedy once pointed out, “it does not allow for the health of our families, the quality of their education… it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.”

Stanley Kuznets, the economist who created the GDP measurement, said that “the welfare of a nation can scarcely be inferred from a measure of national income.”

So why is the GDP consistently considered the most important indicator of a country’s success level?

In 2009, The New York Bureau Chief of The Economist rephrased the question: “What if countries competed with each other to become the most socially innovative in the world?” After all, the world that matters on a most visceral level is not made up of dollar signs and algorithms. Rather, it is a living, breathing planet full of people who live and die and face challenges ranging from survival to social injustice.

Consideration of this simple fact led to the birth of the Social Progress Imperative, a movement to measure the success of countries, companies and organizations in a new way, but also in tandem with economic measurements such as GDP.

Current CEO of the Imperative, Michael Green, demonstrated that the two are positively correlated, but not inextricably so. For example, in the 2015 ranking, New Zealand and Norway achieved similar Social Progress Index (SPI) scores, even though New Zealand’s GDP is about 50 percent of Norway’s.

There have been previous efforts to measure national progress beyond the scope of the GDP, such as the Human Development Index (HDI), the Your Better Life Index, and the Legatum Prosperity Index. The primary feature that sets SPI apart from these indexes is that it focuses solely on social outcomes rather than economic ones. With this focus, it tries to take the scope of these previous initiatives to a new level. The Social Progress Index measures the success of a country in three core areas: basic human needs, foundations of wellbeing, and opportunity. And, it measures the outcomes occurring in a country, such as actual availability and accessibility of goods and services, not laws passed with the intention of providing them.

The possibilities of looking at success through this new lens are practically endless. Once there is a better understanding of which countries have the highest overall success, economists, politicians, nonprofits and members from every sector can start to examine what works and what doesn’t work. Goals can be created and prioritized, and opportunity and wellbeing can be increased, which will likely drive economic progress and increase GDP. With more GDP, more resources can be created and provided that will increase SPI.

And, it’s not only countries that can be measured using SPI. Smaller governments, such as cities and states, can view the effect of policies and shape new ones.

Charitable organizations could be ranked so that they can understand their own success levels. Potential patrons can be aware of how effectively their donations are being utilized.
Companies could understand their effect on the world beyond the economic sphere.

Understanding what leads to overall success can help shape initiatives that will create more success, no matter the organization or venue. The Social Progress Index is an exciting way to foster progress on a very human level.

Emily Dieckman

Sources: TED, OECD Better Life Index, Social Progress Imperative 1, Social Progress Imperative 2
Photo: TED