School fees in Denmark are expensive

Work and salary in Denmark - the country comparison


A stable market economy and one of the most extensive social systems make Denmark one of the most attractive labor markets in Europe. The labor market model of so-called “flexicurity” - a word created from flexibility and security (security) - combines comparatively low protection against dismissal with high social security and an active labor market policy.

The Danish economy is heavily export-oriented, with Germany, Sweden and Great Britain being the largest buyers. Machines and devices as well as agricultural products are the export hits. In addition to these two areas, the service sector and tourism are the main drivers of the Danish economy.
The global economic crisis has also had an impact in Denmark. But now, after a few years of downturn, the gross domestic product is back on a growth path.

Key figures: Working in Denmark

  • Population: 5.7 million
  • Currency: Danish crown
  • Average monthly earnings: 4.830 € gross
  • Salary components: (gross and net) basic salary plus variable salary components. The monthly fixed contribution to the so-called labor market supplementary pension for full-time employees is currently DKR 284 (corresponds to approx. € 38), with around one third (approx. € 12.70) from the employee and around two thirds (approx. € 25.50) ) are paid by the employer. In the case of part-time work, the amount is reduced proportionally. In addition, in many sectors there is a labor market pension / company pension according to the collective agreement (often 4% of the salary). Unemployment insurance is not part of the ancillary wage costs. It is voluntary and must be taken out privately, which is strongly recommended. The occupational accident insurance is taken out by the employer and does not incur any costs for the employee.
  • Taxes: The Danish tax system is progressive. That means: those who earn more also pay more taxes. The individual tax rate is made up of the sum of municipal tax (depending on the municipality in which you live), state tax (basic tax + top tax for an income of DKK 459,200 per year) and, if applicable, church tax. The income tax also includes the labor market contribution (or AM contribution) amounting to 8% of the income and the health contribution (in 2015 4% of the income above the personal allowance). Overall, Denmark is, along with Sweden, the country with the highest income taxation in Europe. The top tax rate can easily be around 60%.
  • Health insurance & Co: Anyone who registers with the residents' registration office in Denmark automatically receives proof of health insurance and is entitled to general health care. Going to the office should be done as quickly as possible, as there is no health insurance coverage without proof. Medical care covers visits to the doctor and hospital. Dentist and medication costs as well as preventive measures are covered on a pro rata basis. Additional private insurance for uninsured services is possible. Particularly noteworthy: those in need of care are also covered by the state health system.
  • Pension: The retirement age is currently 65 years, but it will increase to 67 years from 2022. From 2030, the retirement age is to be linked to increasing life expectancy. In addition to the above-mentioned supplementary labor market pension and the collectively regulated company pension, there is the so-called national pension, which everyone living in Denmark receives - regardless of whether and how much he has worked. This is currently around € 1,500. It is difficult to quantify the amount of the total pension, as it depends not only on all of the pensions mentioned, but also on private provision.
  • Baby break / parental leave: Maternity leave covers 18 weeks (4 before and 14 after the birth). Incidentally, fathers are entitled to 2 weeks of paternity leave in a row within the first 14 weeks after the child is born. The two parents then have another 32 weeks at their disposal. In total, there is an entitlement to 52 weeks of parental leave with continued payment of wages - per child. Often the full wage is still paid, but this also depends on the specific collective agreement.
  • Payable salary: Monthly transfer to the private account.
  • Weekly working hours: 37 hours are the rule, but individual arrangements are not excluded.
  • Vacation entitlement per year: The legal minimum entitlement is 25 days (5 weeks), but many collective agreements guarantee more. There are also 9 statutory non-working holidays.
  • Work breaks: There is no uniform regulation here. In many collective agreements, the break is part of working time, in other areas break times have to be reworked. The only legal regulation is that there must be at least 11 hours of non-working time between two work shifts.

Denmark in a country comparison

In contrast to many other European countries, Denmark does not have a statutory minimum wage. The minimum level of income is regulated in most areas by collective agreements. Because in Denmark over 90% of the employment relationships are subject to collective bargaining agreements. The fact that the collectively agreed minimum wages are higher than the German minimum wage can easily be guessed from the average Danish income.

But how well do the Danes really earn? In order to be able to assess this, it is always necessary to take a look at the cost of living. If the price level for consumer goods and services in Germany is almost exactly in line with the EU average, the daily costs of the Danes are 36.8% higher. If you compare the average income in Germany (€ 3,572) with that in Denmark (€ 4,830), you find that the salary of Scandinavians is 35.2% higher than in this country, which almost compensates for the significantly higher cost of living.
The Danish system with high salaries, high taxes, high cost of living, but also extensive health and social benefits, seems to work. Because Denmark is one of the wealthiest countries in the EU and, according to the latest surveys, the Danes are the happiest people in the world - even if that will certainly not only depend on income and purchasing power.

Labor market trends

After years of boom, Denmark was also affected by the global financial and economic crisis and its effects. In the meantime, however, the gross domestic product is growing continuously again and Denmark seems to have finally overcome the consequences of the crisis.
In the years before the global economic crisis, unemployment was the lowest in all of Europe (3.4% in 2008), but rose in the course of the crisis to 7.6% (2011). However, like the general economic situation, the labor market has also recovered step by step in recent years, so that the unemployment rate in 2016 is around 6%. Youth unemployment was more than twice as high in August 2016 at 12.6%. From a geographical perspective, the Fyn and Storstrom regions stand out negatively with a rate of around 7% unemployed.

Which professions are in demand in Denmark?

Skilled workers are welcome in Denmark and are particularly sought after in the following sectors:

Trained specialists in the following professions have particularly good chances:

  • Engineers
  • Chemists
  • Doctors, including veterinarians
  • Speech therapists
  • Physiotherapists
  • Geriatric nurses
  • Nurses and nurses
  • Medical assistants
  • Craftsmen (especially in the field of electrical engineering)
  • Factory and warehouse workers

This selection of frequently searched professions can of course only be a rough overview. If you are interested in the Danish job market, other job profiles should also simply search the local job portals and check their market value.

School system and education

The Danish care and education system is largely financed by the state. Compulsory schooling - which is actually compulsory for our Scandinavian neighbors, as children can also be taught at home - begins at the age of 7 and lasts for a total of 9 years:

  • About 80% of all pupils who are obliged to teach attend the state primary school (Folkeskole). The Folkeskole is a community school - there is no division into different school types - and is attended for 9 or 10 years. Around 15% attend a private school.
  • The qualification after 9 years of school attendance roughly corresponds to a demanding secondary school qualification in Germany. After another year in Folkeskole, an extended qualification, which is similar to the German secondary school qualification, beckons.

After the 9 or 10 years of school, the young people have different options:

  • Attendance of a 3-year upper school at a grammar school, which ends with the student-exempt, the Danish Abitur.
  • Start of vocational training in the dual system (in-company and school-based training), which lasts between 1.5 and 5.5 years depending on the direction.

Those who want to tackle higher education after graduating from high school have the choice between four institutions:

  • Academy of Higher Vocational Education: The focus is on business, technology and IT.
  • University colleges: The focus is on business, education, technology and care - all with a focus on professional practice.
  • Universities: The focus is on research-based study programs.
  • University Level Institutions: Emphasis is placed on music and the performing arts.

Conclusion: working in Denmark

All in all, Denmark is a very attractive labor market with opportunities for a whole range of careers. The high salaries are put into perspective by the high taxes and cost of living, but the state health system and the extensive social benefits do something to at least compensate for this. Even if, as an employee from abroad, all benefits are not available right from the start: For example, the amount of the state pension depends on how long you have been registered in Denmark.

The relatively small language barrier also has a positive effect. For most jobs, Danish is not absolutely necessary; English is generally very easy to use. And yet it is of course advisable to speak the national language for complete integration. So it's only practical that Danish is relatively easy to learn for German-speaking people.
The rather short working hours in the European average do the rest. This leaves plenty of time for the family and to enjoy the geographical advantages of the state between the North and Baltic Seas.

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