Bernie Sanders, Denmark and me

Bernie Sanders has often praised Denmark and now CNN has visited Denmark to have a look at the country.

CNN’s Chris Moody interviewed me about my views of Denmark as Sanders’ dream society. See here.

Obviously there is a lot say about this topic and recently I wrote up some of my views on this on a Facebook update:

Bernie Sanders won in New Hampshire. Bernie loves Denmark – so do I for very natural reasons.

But when US citizens vote for Bernie they should know that Denmark is NOT an economic miracle. Rather the Danish economy has significantly UNDERPERFORMED the US economy since the early 1970s.

The graph below shows GDP/capita in Denmark as a share of GDP.

In the 1950 and 1960 Denmark was catching up to US living standards.

In this period it should be noted that the Danish economy more looked like what Ron Paul would like to see than what Bernie Sanders would like to see. Health care was to a large extent privatized, there were no government mandated minimum wages and the welfare system was quite limited and not very generous.

In fact until the mid-1960s the public sector in Denmark was SMALLER than the public sector in the US as share of GDP.

It was really not before the second half of the 1960s and the early 1970s that the public sector started to grow strongly in Denmark and the welfare system became very generous.

This coincided with Denmark starting to loose ground relative to the US.

So yes, there are great things to say about Denmark and the US could learn a lot from our continued commitment to free trade, to fairly unregulated product and labour markets and a lower corporate tax than the US, but that is just not what Bernie Sanders wants. He wants higher taxes and a larger public sector. Exactly the things that caused Denmark to “de-converge” from the US over the past 35-40 years.

 US Denmark GDP per capita


I am presently putting together a presentation on this topic – with the title “Bernie and Denmark – the view of a skeptical Danish economist”. If you want to book me for a presentation on this or related topics please contact my agent Roz Hanna ( or contact me directly (


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  1. G. Cris.

     /  February 17, 2016

    Very interesting comment, Lars. Would you mind making the “Follow” feature available on your Facebook profile, since your posts are already public?

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