The figures suggest that social welfare payments – which were reduced by government restrictions known as the kontanthjælpsloft (social welfare limit) introduced in 2016 – could be insufficient to cover higher living costs in the cities.
According to figures from media Ugebrevet A4, 7,259 people receiving social welfare payments left Copenhagen last year, while 2,356 moved to the city – a net decrease of 4,723.
In Aarhus, a net decrease by 1,000 in 2016 was recorded by the same measure.
Many of those leaving Copenhagen have relocated to the southern island of Lolland, according to the report. Figures from Lolland Municipality show a net gain of 299 people receiving social welfare payments.
Holger Schou Rasmussen, the Social Democrat mayor on Lolland, said that he was concerned that in 20 years nobody on social welfare would be able to live in Copenhagen.
“Then only people with work and high levels of education will live in Copenhagen,” Rasmussen said.
According to Lolland Municipality's calculations, the island has been refunded for 93 percent of cases in which people receiving social support from municipalities in the Copenhagen area moved to Lolland. Seven such cases remain unresolved.
Rasmussen, Copenhagen's lord mayor Frank Jensen and councillor Thomas Medom in Aarhus have all connected the trend to social welfare curbs introduced by the current government, including the kontanthjælpsloft limit to welfare.
Minister for employment Troels Lund Poulsen has dismissed any notion of a link. Poulsen said that fewer people on social welfare moved during the first half of 2017 than in the years 2014-2016.
“From the opposition's point of view this is a very opportunistic effort to connect this issue to the government's job reform,” Poulsen said.
“I have to say that more people are not moving since [new caps on social welfare] came into effect,” he added.
A couple with two children receiving Denmark's kontanthjælp standard social welfare support for those out of work receive around 400,000 kroner (54,000 euros) annually through payments and subsidies, giving a monthly income of 23,600 kroner (3,170 euros), the minister said.