The Public Interest

Daily life in the Danish welfare state

David Gress

Fall 1982

WHAT is it like to live in the welfare state? For most of my life I have lived in Denmark, a country normally considered a prime example of the modern welfare state (although the values and institutions characteristic of this social and political system are by now prevalent far beyond the northwest-European area where they originated). There are many features of contemporary Denmark which may be examined in light of the expansion of the welfare state over the past thirty years.  Some have to do with the administration and cost of programs, but what I find most important-and disturbing-is its apparent effect on social attitudes towards assistance, work, business, and even privacy.  These aspects of daily life here can be described in some detail, but first it is necessary to grasp a bit of recent Danish social history.

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