The finance minister, Bjarne Corydon, has defended Denmark’s growing inequality, telling Bloomberg that it’s not necessarily a problem that the rich are getting richer.
A report from European statistics agency Eurostat last month showed that Denmark’s 12 percent jump in income inequality between 2008 and 2012 was the largest amongst EU nations and an August report from Danish think-tank Cevea revealed that the wealthiest one percent of Danes – about 46,000 individuals – own nearly one third of the country’s total wealth.
See also: Denmark's one percent problem
But Corydon said that addressing inequality shouldn’t be equated with capping individual wealth.
“There’s room to make Denmark a place where it’s OK to make more money, even if you make a lot of money already,” Corydon told Bloomberg.
“A scenario where we can improve conditions for those that have the least while also improving conditions for those making the most money shouldn’t be something we reject purely on principle,” he added.
Although Corydon conceded that “Danish inequality has moved in the wrong direction on some parameters”, he said that levelling inequality by raising taxes on the wealthiest Danes “is not an option”.
Corydon’s comments on income inequality came on the same day in which a survey from online journal Ugebrevet A4 revealed that Danes have a skewed view of the nation’s inequality picture.
The survey showed that Danes think that the richest one fifth of the population owns 43 percent of the wealth and that Danes think the optimal share is 32 percent. In reality, Ugebrevet A4 says that the richest 20 percent of Danes own 36 percent of the nation’s wealth.
The head of Cevea said that although Danes might be off on the specifics, they are right to perceive the income inequality is a major problem.
“If instead of dividing the population into fifths, the survey had for example looked at the wealthiest and poorest five percent, then the actual difference in income between the top and bottom would have been much, much larger,” Kristian Weise told Ugebrevet A4.
The Eurostat study showed that Denmark’s Gini coefficient stood at 27.5 in 2013, better than the EU average of 30.5 but representing a higher level of inequality than in Scandinavian neighbours Sweden (24.9) and Norway (22.7).
Bloomberg's interview with Corydon can be seen below: