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From the Edge of the Abyss to Bonanza – and Beyond. Danish Economy and Economic Policies 1980–2011

The Nordic Varieties of Capitalism

ISBN: 978-0-85724-777-3, eISBN: 978-0-85724-778-0

ISSN: 0195-6310

Publication date: 18 October 2011


This chapter analyses the recovery of the Danish economy from the crisis of the 1980s, its elevation to a bit of an ‘economic miracle’ or at least an ‘employment miracle’ from 1995 to 2005 and its subsequent decline during the financial crisis, which revealed more long-standing problems that precluded a quick recovery. The solution of Denmark's structural balance of payment problems in the early 1990s paved the way for long-term prosperity, and Denmark managed the challenges of globalisation and deindustrialisation almost without social costs. However, an accumulation of short-term policy failures and credit liberalisation facilitated a credit and housing bubble, a consumption-driven boom and declining competitiveness. In broad terms, the explanation is political; this includes not only vote- and office-seeking strategies of the incumbent government but also ideational factors such as agenda setting of economic policy. Somewhat unnoticed – partly because of preoccupation with long-term challenges of ageing and shortage of labour – productivity and economic growth rates had slowed down over several years. The Danish decline in GDP 2008–2009 was larger than in the 1930s, and after the bubble burst, there were few drivers of economic growth. Households consolidated and were reluctant to consume; public consumption had to be cut as well; exports increased rather slowly; and in this climate, there was little room for private investments. Financially, the Danish economy remained healthy, though. Current accounts revealed record-high surpluses after the financial crisis; state debt remained moderate, and if one were to include the enormous retained taxes in private pension funds, net state debt would de facto be positive. Still, around 2010–2011 there were few short-term drivers of economic growth, and rather unexpectedly, it turned out that unemployment problems were likely to prevail for several years.


Goul Andersen, J. (2011), "From the Edge of the Abyss to Bonanza – and Beyond. Danish Economy and Economic Policies 1980–2011", Mjøset, L. (Ed.) The Nordic Varieties of Capitalism (Comparative Social Research, Vol. 28), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 89-165.



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