Public Sector Employment in Ten Western Countries
Edited by Hans-Ulrich Derlien and B. Guy Peters
Chapter 10: The Political Allocation of Incessant Growth in the Danish Public Service
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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