Fraser Institute News Release: Average Danes pay high taxes to finance Denmark’s large welfare state

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Oct. 26, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Despite common misperceptions, middle-class workers in Denmark pay relatively high taxes for Denmark’s large government, notes a new book published today by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank.

“Foreign admirers, particularly social democrats, often point to Denmark as a policy model but few seem to appreciate who actually pays for the country’s large welfare state,” said noted Danish economist Lars Christensen, co-author of The Free Enterprise Welfare State: A History of Denmark’s Unique Economic Model.

Indeed, Denmark has a large welfare state paid for by some of the highest personal income and consumption taxes in the industrialized world.

For example, when they buy goods (e.g. groceries) and services, Danes pay a 25 per cent value-added tax (VAT), similar to Canada’s GST, which is the second-highest among high-income countries.

And Denmark’s top personal income tax rate (57 per cent), which is among the highest in the world, kicks in at a comparatively low level of income—roughly US$92,000 compared to US$177,000 in Canada and US$536,000 in the United States. In other words, it’s not just wealthy Danes who pay the top personal income tax rate.

“Average Danes pay the price for their large government sector,” said Matthew Mitchell, book co-editor and senior fellow at the Fraser Institute.

“When considering Danish-style government, policymakers in Canada should understand the implications for taxpayers,” said Steven Globerman, book co-editor and senior fellow at the Fraser Institute.

Finally, according to polling data released in 2023, Canadians overwhelmingly reject higher personal income taxes for the middle class and a higher GST to finance higher levels of government spending.

This book (accompanied by a website) is part of the Fraser Institute’s Realities of Socialism series.

To arrange media interviews or for more information, please contact:
Mark Hasiuk, Fraser Institute
(604) 688-0221 ext. 517

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The Fraser Institute is an independent Canadian public policy research and educational organization with offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal and ties to a global network of think-tanks in 87 countries. Its mission is to improve the quality of life for Canadians, their families and future generations by studying, measuring and broadly communicating the effects of government policies, entrepreneurship and choice on their well-being. To protect the Institute’s independence, it does not accept grants from governments or contracts for research. Visit