Denmark a Nordic Welfare State - Are the Active Labour Market Policy Withering Away?

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Denmark has been portrayed as a country with a focus on full employment, gender equality and high level of participation on the labour market. It has historically further been built upon consensus and class-compromises and known for flexi-curity. The active labour market policy has focused on how to ensure not only a work-first approach, but that a constant upgrading of qualifications would guarantee that the individual citizen could have the qualification to enter and to stay on the labour market.

A core question is whether the focus on flexi-curity including upgrading of skills and integration on the labour market has been withering away towards a sharper focus on a work first approach, where activation is used as a stick more than a carrot, also implying that rights’ as citizens has been increasingly reduced, and, thereby increased the role of citizens as labourer on the labour market.

The article concludes, based on a detailed case-analysis of Denmark, that profound changes has taken place over the last 10-15 years implying that the active labour market policy has strengthened its focus on work-first. Access to benefits has moved in a less citizen based direction, and the principles of universality and generosity of benefits has been gradually eroded. Furthermore, that the social partner’s role has been reduced among other things also due to lower union density rates. A short comparison with the other Nordic countries is used as a background for depicting the changes. However, by the end of 2011 a few changes perhaps marking a shift towards a human-capital approach has taken place.

TidsskriftThe Open Social Science Journal
Sider (fra-til)15-23
Antal sider9
StatusUdgivet - dec. 2012


  • labour market
  • active labour market policy
  • nordic welfare model

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