The one percent: How Denmark’s rich are getting much richer

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The one percent: How Denmark’s rich are getting much richer
A 2010 file photo showing property owned by Danish billionaire Lars Seier Christensen. File photo: Erik Refner / Ritzau Scanpix

The proportion of the country’s total wealth owned by the richest one percent of Danes has significantly increased since the 1990s.


At the beginning of the 1990s, the one percent of the country’s population with the highest earnings represented around 7 percent of the country’s total wages.

That figure has now increased to 11 percent, according to an analysis by thinktank Kraka and consultancy firm Deloitte, as reported by Jyllands-Posten.

The change means that Denmark is now an outlier relative to the rest of Scandinavia. The richest one percent in both Norway and Sweden account for around 8 percent of total earnings.

Denmark’s value for the measure is closer to that seen in the United Kingdom, according to the analysis.

The trend is cause for concern, according to Kasper Lippert-Rasmussen, an Aarhus University professor who specializes in inequality.

“If you want to have equality in society, there is good reason to be alarmed,” Lippert-Rasmussen told Jyllands-Posten.

An acceleration in the trend has been observed in the years since the Global Financial Crisis, driven by higher top-end wages and increased income from personal fortunes, according to Kraka’s assessment.

Social Democrat acting political spokesperson Peter Hummelgaard also said the report was a concern.

“This is a trend which most people will, unfortunately, recognize. The issue here is not envy, but fairness and unity. An equal society is also a more stable society,” Hummelgaard told Jyllands-Posten.

The Social Democrats want to address the issue by limiting tax exemptions on wages over ten million kroner and increasing tax on large incomes from personal fortunes.

Minister of Finance Kristian Jensen, of the governing Liberal party, denied the analysis signalled a need for reform.

“There is of course a limit to how much inequality you can have in society. But I don’t think that’s where Denmark is. We should be fighting poverty, not wealth,” Jensen told Jyllands-Posten

READ ALSO: Denmark has OECD's lowest inequality



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