16:41 GMT08 April 2020
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    While poverty is declining across Scandinavia, Denmark remains an outlier: the number of extremely poor people there has risen 85% since 2008, according to Eurostat.

    Policemen stand in front of a house in Ishoj, Denmark
    © AFP 2020 / Asger Ladefoged / Scanpix Denmark
    There are more and more Danes who cannot pay their bills, heat their homes in winter for months or a spend a week off away from home, the Danish tabloid newspaper Extra Bladet informed, citing a recent report by Eurostat. According to new figures from the EU statistics keeper Eurostat, the percentage of Danes at risk of poverty or social exclusion increased from 16.3 to 17.7 percent from 2008-2015. In total, the percentage of "extremely poor" Danes has increased from 2 percent in 2008 to 3.7 percent in 2015.

    Remarkably, Danish Social Security and Interior Minister Karen Ellemann-Jensen notoriously abolished the Danish poverty line last year.

    "I still don't not believe that a poverty line can somehow alleviate the situation for people who have it hard economy-wise. Therefore I cannot see any sense in keeping it," Karen Ellemann-Jensen said in this connection.

    A recent poll suggested that only six out of 100 Danes believe that Danish welfare will get any better in the future. A total of 56 percent of Danes expect the welfare system to weaken in the future, Danish newspaper Berlingske reported earlier in October.

    ​In contrast, a reverse trend is manifest in the rest of the Nordic countries. In Denmark's northern neighbor Sweden, only 0.7 percent of the population lives in extreme poverty. In Norway, the corresponding figure dropped from 2 percent in 2008 to 1.7 percent in 2015. Furthermore, the Nordic nations, with their sturdy economies and some of the world's most well-developed welfare systems, fared better than EU member states on the average. Conversely, over a third of the population was found to be at risk of poverty and social exclusion in three member states: Bulgaria (41.3 percent), Romania (37.3) and Greece (35.7). Eurostat also estimated that the share of people within the EU at risk of poverty is back to the level that preceded the financial crisis of 2007-08.

    Person shopping tomatoes
    © Sputnik / Konstantin Chalabov
    ​Remarkably, internal figures from the humanitarian poverty-fighting NGO Swedish City Missions suggest the opposite of Eurostat's picture. According to the NGO, the number of people living in poverty is increasing, Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet reported. Moreover, a recent mapping of poverty trends suggests that the vast majority of people who apply to charity organizations have Swedish IDs and are therefore legally entitled to public assistance. Nevertheless, many have been dependent on social assistance or have fallen between the cracks of the Swedish social security system.

    A person is considered "extremely poor" by Eurostat if he or she is unable to pay rent or pay for central heating at home. Other factors Eurostat takes into consideration include whether or not one can afford a washing machine, a color TV or a mobile phone, to take a week of vacation or put meat on the table every other day.


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