Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

High Taxes in Hard Times: How Denmark Built and Maintained a Huge Income Tax


Author Info

  • Ganghof, Steffen
Registered author(s):


    Denmark is a welfare state whose income tax burden is larger than the total tax burden of the United States or Japan. Given recent political science accounts of the links between tax mixes and the welfare state, Denmark seems to be a puzzling anomaly. These accounts see income taxation as inherently problematic and claim that 'regressive taxes' (social security contributions and indirect consumption) have been conducive to building and maintaining large tax/welfare states. This article provides a simple explanation of the ?Danish puzzle? and challenges the argument about tax mixes. What is problematic about income taxation is capital income taxation, but low income taxes are only one of two ways to keep the capital income tax burden moderate. The other is to differentiate the tax burdens for capital and labor within the income tax. The article also explores the politics of income tax differentiation and suggests that Denmark's high level of income taxation made it easier to maintain and even increase this level in the 1980s and 1990s. -- Die Einkommensteuerlast des Wohlfahrtsstaates Dänemark ist größer als die Gesamtsteuerlast der USA oder Japans. Im Lichte neuerer politikwissenschaftlicher Theorien über den Zusammenhang zwischen Steuermix und Größe des Wohlfahrtsstaates erscheint Dänemark als rätselhafte Anomalie. Die Besteuerung der Einkommen wird als inhärent problematisch angesehen und ?regressive Steuern? (Sozialabgaben und indirekte Konsumsteuern) sollen Wachstum und Widerstandsfähigkeit des Wohlfahrtsstaates begünstigt haben. Dieses Discussion Paper liefert eine einfache Erklärung des dänischen Rätsels und relativiert die Bedeutung des Steuermix: Die Einkommensbesteuerung ist problematisch im Hinblick auf die Besteuerung der Kapitaleinkommen, aber die Senkung der Einkommensteuer ist nur einer von zwei Wegen, die Steuerlast der Kapitaleinkommen zu begrenzen. Der andere Weg besteht in der Differenzierung der Steuerlast für Arbeit und Kapital innerhalb der Einkommensteuer. Das Discussion Paper analysiert die Politik der Einkommensteuerdifferenzierung und argumentiert, dass das hohe Ausgangsniveau der Einkommensteuerlast eine Erhaltung oder gar Erhöhung dieses Niveaus in den 1980er und 1990er Jahren erleichtert hat.

    Download Info

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in its series MPIfG Discussion Paper with number 05/5.

    as in new window
    Date of creation: 2005
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:zbw:mpifgd:055

    Contact details of provider:
    Postal: Paulstr. 3, 50676 Köln
    Phone: + 49 (0) 221-2767-0
    Web page:
    More information through EDIRC

    Related research



    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
    as in new window
    1. Lindert,Peter H., 2004. "Growing Public," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521529167, April.
    2. Hettich,Walter & Winer,Stanley L., 2005. "Democratic Choice and Taxation," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521021807, April.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as in new window

    Cited by:
    1. Niamh Hardiman & Patrick Murphy & Orlaith Burke, 2008. "Legitimating Fiscal Stabilization: Ireland in Comparative Perspective," Working Papers 200813, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
    2. Bogedan, Claudia, 2006. "Readjusting the social democratic welfare state in Denmark 1973 - 2003," TranState Working Papers 40, University of Bremen, Collaborative Research Center 597: Transformations of the State.


    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.


    Access and download statistics


    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:zbw:mpifgd:055. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (ZBW - German National Library of Economics).

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.