Thanks to Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ proud identification as a Democratic Socialist and allusion to Denmark as an ideal social democracy, Denmark is being discussed throughout the news media. But what few outlets are brave enough to report is that, by almost every measurable standard, Danish socialism runs circles around American capitalism. Here are a few examples:
1. Denmark’s unemployed workers get 90 percent of their old salary for 2 years.
Denmark has a tremendous social safety net for unemployed workers — any worker who worked at least 52 weeks over a three-year period can qualify to have 90 percent of their original salary paid for, for up to two years. The Danish government also has plentiful training programs for out-of-work Danes. As a result, 73 percent of Danes between 15 and 64 have a paying job, compared to 67 percent of Americans.
2. Denmark spends far less on healthcare than the US.
According to the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), the US spends twice as much per capita on healthcare than in Denmark, where taxpayer-funded universal healthcare is available for all citizens. 2009 OECD data shows that the U.S. spent an average of $7,290 per person on healthcare. Denmark spent just $3,512. World Bank data, as seen in the chart above, shows Danish healthcare costs are about $3,000 less per capita than in the US.
3. Denmark is the happiest country on Earth.
The World Happiness Report, which determines which nation’s population is the “happiest” using criteria like life expectancy, GDP, social safety nets, as well as factors like “perception of corruption” and “freedom to make life choices,” found that Denmark was the happiest country. The US, in the meantime, ranked #17 on the same list.
4. Danes enjoy the world’s shortest workweek.
Denmark leads every other OECD nation in work-life balance. Danes work an average of 37 hours a week, earn an average of $46,000 USD annually, and have the right to 5 weeks of paid vacation per year. Here in the US, the average worker puts in an average of 47 hours a week, and only takes16 days of vacation a year. This is largely due to a more stressful work climate, in which wages are stagnating while costs are rising. Combine that with a highly-competitive job market, and that means more Americans are willing to chain themselves to their desk then to risk taking vacation days and coming back to find someone else took their job.
5. Denmark pays students $900 a month to attend college.
Here in the US, the cost of going to college has soared by over 500 percent in the last 30 years. But in Denmark, not only is college free, but students are actually paid $900 USD per month to go to school, provided they live on their own. And this funding lasts up to six years. By contrast, the average US student pays over $31,000 a year in tuition to attend a private university, out-of-state residents at public universities pay $22,000 a year in tuition, and tuition costs for in-state residents at those same universities is still over $9,000.
6. Denmark has one of the highest per-capita incomes in the developed world.
In Denmark, despite a short work week and a generous social safety net, workers make more than enough to meet basic needs. According to per capita income data from the World Bank, Denmark’s per capita income is roughly $5,000 higher than in the US.
7. Denmark has one of the world’s lowest poverty rates. The US has one of the highest.
The benefits of living in Denmark are far-reaching — out of all OECD countries, Denmark has the second-lowest poverty rate at 0.6 percent. To compare, the OECD average of 11.3 percent is still lower than the 14.5 percent poverty rate in the US.
8. Denmark is ranked the #1 best country for business (The US is ranked #18).
In 2014, Forbes ranked Denmark as the #1 best country for business.
Forbes used 11 different criteria to rank countries — innovation, property rights, red tape, taxes, investor protection, stock market performance, technology, corruption, personal freedom, freedom of trade, and monetary freedom.
Under the same criteria, the US ranked #18.
9. New parents in Denmark get 52 weeks of paid family leave. New American parents get nothing.
The Danish government gives new parents an average of 52 weeks — a full year — of paid time off after having a child. Those 52 weeks can be allocated however the parents wish. In addition to the 52 weeks, new moms get 4 weeks of maternity leave before giving birth and 14 weeks after. Even new fathers get 2 additional weeks after the birth of their child. But here in the US, 1 in 4 new mothers go back to work within two weeks of having a child.
This is what Democratic Socialism really looks like. Is this the dystopian nightmare that Republicans are making it out to be, or an ideal vision of what Americans could have if we came together and demanded it from our government?