AØKA08184U The Danish Welfare model - for exhange students

Volume 2013/2014
Non-Degree Course
NOT availble for students enrolled for full degree programmes at the Department of Economics

The Danish Welfare model is known as one of the most extensive and generous government model in the westerly part of the welfare states. The public sector constitutes the largest part in the world (59% of GDP) and over 2 million Danes (out of a population of 5,5 million people) receives transfers from the state. With the “free principal” in education, health and services for handicapped and elderly, the Danish Welfare thinking is driven far more forward than even the most modern European welfare states.

That is why there are good reasons to study the Danish welfare society. Even though the Danish model is known and famous all over the world, there is sparingly little qualified literature in English about this subject.

The Danish model points out, that there has not been accept of the consequences the market forces have had on the economic distribution of income, benefits and vital services as health.

The Danish state has therefore taken action to avert the market forces not just to correct market failure and secure calm and safety in the society, but specially to secure a more evenly distribution of incomes through collective insurance via the state. This means:

  • That the state has guaranteed the citizens a certain minimum income.
  • That the state has secured the population equal access to the best standard for service, health and education.
  • And that the state through social insurance have tried to limit the risks in life, as illness, age, unemployment and handicaps.

With the world’s largest public sector – measured in GDP - the tax level in Denmark is high. To much surprise the working force is - measured up to the whole population – substantial. The Danish welfare state has until now delivered remarkable results. There is a relatively low unemployment rate – conditioned of a substantial mobility on the labor market within a relatively effective Flexicurity model. The generous “free principal” and transfers factors a valuable stabilized demand effect on the Danish macro economy. The standard for education is in average one of the best in the OECD countries. Even though the public sectors economy in these years is marked by substantial deficits – the Danish Welfare model have been coping through as one of the best in the west.

The result is a high GDP “per capita” and one of the most equal distributed economies between rich and poor.

The model is facing substantial challenges. The productivity development seems slow in the country and the working force is decreasing on account of the ageing in the Danish society. Therefore the ongoing reform efforts will be a subject for scrutiny on this course – with special weight on the welfare policy. The sustainability in all the welfare system, the welfare states need for working forces, and the challenges from the globalization.

Learning Outcome

On the course we will go through the main characteristics and the ground principals behind the Danish welfare systems. The many Danish social insurance policies are presented – from unemployment funds over to pensions and sickness benefits.

Solving the social tasks through the market – the public og the private society will be included in the this course – as well as the new debates on the quality in the public sector and the possibilities in the new welfare technology will be discussed. We will also discuss disparity and differences, disintegration – especially by immigrates and poverty. In connection with this the effects of redistribution will be discussed.

The special Danish economic history behind the welfare development will be a part of the course, and the theories and tools, there lies behind the understanding of this will be drawn into the course – especially the insurance and actuarial models, welfare theories and welfare regimes.


  • Social welfare The Danish model – Bjarne Hastrup, Copenhagen 2011. 451 p. Web-edition can be found at: www.multivers.dk (BH 11)


  • The Social contract between the generations – Bjarne Hastrup, Copenhagen 2008, 318 p. (BH 08)


  • The Danish Economic council – The English summary – spring 2012 – can be found at: www.dors.dk. (DORS 12)


  • The Danish welfare commission 2003 – 2006 – Lars Haagen and Torben M. Andersen –2008. (LH + TMA 08)


Optional readings:

  • Flexicurity and beyond – finding a new agenda for the European social model. Henning Jørgensen and per Kongshøj Madsen (EDS) DJØF publishing 2007
  • The politics of social solidarity – Peter Baldwin, Cambridge Univesity Press 1990
  • The new politics of the welfare state – Poul Pierson – Oxford University press, 2002
  • Oxford handbook of Pensions and Retirement income – Gordon L. Clark, Alicia H. Munnell, J. Michael, Oxford University Press - 2006
  • The handbook of West European Pension politics – Ellen M. Immergut, Karen MM. Anderson, Isabelle Schulze, University Press.
This course is NOT available for students enrolled in the bachelor or master degree at the Department of Economics
This is a course for students with an interest in the Danish welfare system and with little or no training in economic theory. It is very relevant for international students as well as Danish students from non-economics fields’ e.g. political science, sociology, business, and humanities.
3 hours of lectures per week for 14 weeks
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Exam
  • 40
  • Lectures
  • 42
  • Preparation
  • 124
  • Total
  • 206
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment, 5 days
The exam is a five day written exam. The subject is given on the Copenhagen University homepage. The answer must maximum fill ten pages (10) and maximum one page annex.

It is mandatory to fill out the front pages. Remember to fill out the answer with exam number – do not fill out with social security number or name. These cannot be on the answer.

The exam should be filled out individually and cannot be answered in groups - and all questions should be answered. Please mark clearly in the text, what you submit as main text and what you submit as annex.
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship
100 % censurship
Exam period
Will be updated before the start of the semester
Same as ordinary. But if only a few students have registered for the re-exam, the exam might change to an oral exams with a synopsis to be handed in. This means that the examination date also will change.
Criteria for exam assesment
The Student must in a satisfactory way demonstrate that he/she has mastered the learning outcome of the course.