The Danish welfare state builds on the Scandinavian welfare model characterized by high taxation levels and universal principles. The political and administrative structure is characterized by three nested governmental tiers: National, regional and local.

Denmark’s central authorities consist of the Parliament, the government, the ministries and the appurtenant boards. These authorities develop and present national planning policies and provide guidance to lower levels of administration, which since the local government reform in 2007 has consisted of five regions and 98 municipalities. Regions as well as municipalities are governed by popularly elected councils, who are elected every fourth year and have 1 year budgets.

Each region has between 580,000 and 1,750,000 inhabitants. The regions are primarily responsible for operating and developing the hospital sector in addition to regional development, e.g. in relation to economic growth, tourism, environment and public transport (9). The regions are primarily financed by block grants from the state (app. 75 %) supplemented by contributions from the appurtenant municipalities according to their citizens’ use of healthcare services (app. 20%) and a smaller activity-based contribution from the state to compensate for differences in healthcare needs between regions (app. 5%) (10).

The municipalities have between 1,800 and 570,000 (11) inhabitants (average of 55.000) and thereby Denmark accounts for some of the largest municipalities in Europe (12).
Local government in Denmark is a major force – because of the legal distribution of rights and obligations among the political and administrative layers in Denmark and due to the fact that local authorities handle the greater part of welfare and societal affairs and have a strong local tax base. Municipalities are primarily financed by municipal taxes (app. 75%) supplemented by block grants from the state and user payment for some services (13).


(9) Finansministeriet. Opgaver for kommuner og regioner. 2012. 20-2-2014.
Ref Type: Online Source
(10) Danske Regioner. Finansiering. Regionernes indtægter er sammensat af finansiering fra staten og finansiering fra kommunerne. 2010. 20-2-2014.
(11) Danmarks Statistik. Statistikbanken. FOLK1: Folketal den 1. i kvartalet efter kommune, køn, alder, civilstand, herkomst, oprindelsesland og statsborgerskab. 2014. 20-2-2014.
Ref Type: Online Source
(12) Baldersheim H, Rose LE. Territorial Choice: The Politics of Boundaries and Borders. 2010.
(13) Finansministeriet. Kommunernes finansiering. 2012. 20-2-2014.
Ref Type: Online Source

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