Inequality in Denmark through the looking glass

ECOSCOPE

By Mikkel Hermansen, Structural Surveillance Division, OECD Economics Department

Although Denmark is one of the least unequal countries in the world, it has like many other OECD countries experienced a rise in income inequality. But by exactly how much has the Gini coefficient risen over the last decades? There is significant disagreement between various official sources (Figure 1): The Danish government and Statistics Denmark report a substantial increase, of 5.7 Gini points, since 1990, whereas the OECD figures only convey a rise of 3.1 Gini points (close to the OECD average; see OECD, 2015). And while national sources agree on the trend, they diverge on the level by almost 2 Gini points (26.2 for Danish government vs 27.9 for Statistics Denmark in 2013). While such measurement muddle may seem uninteresting, it emphasises how crucial methodological choices can be for inequality assessments. In this respect, Denmark is an interesting laboratory…

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