The State at Work, Volume 1

The State at Work, Volume 1

Public Sector Employment in Ten Western Countries

Edited by Hans-Ulrich Derlien and B. Guy Peters

Representing the most extensive research on public employment, this volume explores the radical changes that have taken place in the configuration of national public services due to a general expansion of public employment that was followed by stagnation and decreases. Part-time employment and the involvement of women also increased as a component of the public sector and were linked to the most important growth areas such as the educational, health care and personal social services sectors. The two volumes that make up this study shed important insight on these changes.

Chapter 10: The Political Allocation of Incessant Growth in the Danish Public Service

Lotte Bøgh Andersen, Jørgen Grønnegaard Christensen and Thomas Pallesen

Subjects: economics and finance, public sector economics, politics and public policy, public policy

Extract

Lotte Bøgh Andersen, Jørgen Grønnegaard Christensen and Thomas Pallesen INTRODUCTION A few keywords summarize the development of the Danish public sector in the post-war period. First of all, the growth has been immense. In comparison with other Western countries, Denmark was a low spender until the first part of the 1960s. The position was radically changed 30 years later. Now the Danish public sector claims more than half of the Gross National Product, and in this respect ranks among the top spenders in the OECD area. Second, the Danish public sector is distinguished by its allocation of resources between transfers and public consumption. In a comparative perspective – also in comparison with other public sector high spenders such as the Netherlands – public consumption takes a high share of the public budget. At least in the Danish context, the relatively strong emphasis on public consumption has entailed a vast increase in public sector employment. The third major feature of the Danish public sector is the allocation of public tasks across government levels. The growth in public spending and public employment is concentrated at the local government level (counties and municipalities) while the central state level has stagnated. In part this development is explained by a major reform of the public sector in the 1970s by which a number of public sector areas were transferred from central to local government authority. Nevertheless, the main explanation for the increasing role of local government is that growth has taken place in areas...

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