There are many different ways to learn about a nation. The most effective, of course, is to actually live there for awhile.
Failing that, there are facts and figures that can help give an overall impression of a country's make-up and people. Here are ten interesting stats that help paint a picture of modern Denmark.
Growing immigrant population
Denmark's immigrants now make up 11.1 percent of the total population. The number of non-Western immigrants who call Denmark home has increased more than five-fold since 1984. Today, there are 199,829 Western immigrants and 276,230 non-Western immigrants in Denmark along with 21,984 descendants of Westerners and 128,027 descendants of non-Western immigrants.
SEE ALSO: Eight countries in stats: from Spain to Sweden
The largest group of immigrants in Denmark continues to be persons of Turkish origin, who make up 9.8 percent of all immigrants and their descendants. The next largest groups are Poles (5.8%), Germans (5.1%) and Iraqis (4.9%), while the fasting growing groups are Romanians and Poles.
In official Danish statistics, descendants of immigrants (efterkommere) are defined as someone who was born in Denmark to non-Danish parents. If and when the parents receive Danish citizenship, their children are no longer considered descendants in the official numbers.
See also: Big gaps remain between immigrants and Danes
From the outside looking in, Denmark is often portrayed as a paradise of equality where there is not a major gap between the haves and the have-nots. But the numbers on the ground indicate that this is rapidly changing.
Denmark's Gini coefficient, considered the best tool for measuring a country's inequality, is growing faster than anywhere else in Europe. The coefficient stood at 27.5 in 2013, still 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).
The richest one percent of Denmark's population owns 43 percent of the country's total wealth.
See also: Denmark's one percent problem
Homelessness on the rise
The most extreme manifestation of inequality is the number of people who sleep on the streets. Although Denmark's social safety net keeps homelessness levels fairly low, the number of homeless people on Denmark's streets is on the rise.
According to the Danish National Centre for Social Research (SFI), there were a minimum of 5,820 homeless people in 2013. But SFI stresses that the real number is probably much higher. The number of homeless has at 4,998 in 2009.
Denmark is still a safe place (but not for your bike)
The average national rate of reported violence is 2.1 episodes for 1,000 residents. According to Statistics Denmark, the actual number of violent episodes is estimated to be twice as large as the number of reported incidences. The most violent municipalities in Denmark are in the western suburbs of Copenhagen, where there are 4.3 reports of violence for every 1,000 inhabitants. When it comes to violence, 609 women were charged with violent crimes in 2012, a six-fold increase from 1990.
Non-violent crime is a growing problem in Denmark, with the nation behind only Greece
when it comes to the number of home break-ins. The Danish Crime Prevention Council reported that Denmark had 749 reported break-ins for every 100,000 residents in 2013, while there were only 218 in Sweden and 104 in Norway. The national police announced this week however that break-in numbers through the first three quarters of 2014 is down by 10 percent compared to the same period last year.
Bicycle theft is also a major inconvenience for Danes. In 2013, there were 61,416 bikes reported stolen in Denmark – nearly 170 bikes every single day.
Danes has a major cancer problem
Denmark has the world’s highest cancer rates, according to the World Cancer Research Fund, and just over half of all cancer patients survive more than five years after their diagnosis. According to Cancer Research UK, there were an estimated 124.9 deaths from cancer per 100,000 adults in 2012, and an estimated 15,669 deaths in total.
Danes’ high levels of smoking and alcohol consumption are key contributing factors to the high cancer rates.
The traditional family structure is on the retreat...
Marriage rates have decreased significantly over the past decade or so. While in 2000, 7.2 of every 1,000 Danish inhabitants was married, that number was down to 5.1 in 2012. More and more Danes start families outside of the confines of traditional marriage. In 2012, more than half (50.6 percent) of all live births in Denmark were outside of marriage.
Divorce rates in Denmark have hovered between 42-47 percent since 1986. In 2012, the number stood at 42.7 percent.
In 1989, Denmark became the first country in the world to recognize same-sex unions but it wasn’t until June 2012 that same-sex marriage was legalized. That year, there were 104 marriages between two men and 164 between two women. In 2013, there were 129 same-sex marriages between men and 234 between women.
... and birth rates are dropping
The birth rate in Denmark has been on such a steady decline that the public school system’s sex education curriculum will now begin encouraging young people to have children before it’s too late
. In 2012, the national birth rate was at just 1.7 children per couple. The average age for becoming a first-time parent in Denmark is 29.1 years, a full five years older than in 1970.
The birth rates of Denmark’s immigrant population has also slowed. Non-Western immigrants now have an average of 1.8 children compared to 1.69 children for ethnic Danes.
Danish women work more than their EU counterparts
According to statistics from the Employment Ministry, 70 percent of adult women work in Denmark, well above the EU average of 59 percent. The World Bank has the number lower, reporting that 59 percent of women work, but the difference is largely down to how ‘working age’ is defined. While the World Bank counts all women above the age of 15, Danish statistics typically look at women between the ages of 16-66. No matter how it is defined, Danish women are among the most active in the workforce in the EU.
Earning and spending are up slightly...
Two recent consumer confidence studies have indicated that Danes feel the recession is safely behind them. Consumer confidence levels are at their highest point since before the recession and Danes are slowly starting to spend more.
When they're ready to open up their pocketbooks, Danes have an average monthly income of 24,350 kroner (€3,273) at their disposal. The 2014 salary numbers were up slightly from 23,887 kroner/month (€3,211) level in 2013.
... but many people still depend on the state
According to Statistics Denmark, there were 105,400 people on unemployment benefits in September 2014. Some 77,500 of those were on the unemployment benefit dagpenge while the rest were on the less generous cash benefit kontanthjælp.
The reform of the dagpenge system has been a dominant issue in domestic politics. The previous Venstre-led government approved a dagpenge reform that halved the period that individuals can receive the benefit from four years to two, but the reform was implemented under the current Social Democrat and Social Liberals coalition.
The government expected that no more than 4,000 individuals would lose the right to dagpenge per year, but some calculations show that as many as 34,000 lost the benefit last year and another 14,000 will lose it in 2014.
In attempt to appease its left-wing allies, the government has agreed to put 1.5 billion kroner toward a new form of support to go toward those individuals who today neither qualify for dagpenge nor kontanthjælp.