Population. – The Danish population (1989) amounts to 5,129,778 residents, with a stable trend compared to the 5,123,989 registered in 1981 (1976 census, 5,072,516). After a long phase of very slight increases, in 1981 there was a first population decline, repeated in the following years, except for a slight recovery starting in 1986. The prevalence of deaths (11.3 ‰ in 1987) on births appears to be decisive (11 ‰); the migratory movement, however, today less balanced than in the past, gives rise to positive balances that counterbalance the natural trend: in 1985 there were 36,214 immigrants and 26,715 emigrants; in 1988, respectively, 35,051 and 34,544.
At the same time, the distribution of the population is also changing. Firstly, in the last fifteen years there has been a slight decrease in the number of residents in the densest settlements (Sjaelland: from 248 residents / km 2 in 1975, to 244 residents / km 2 in 1989), and an equally modest increase occurred in the less populous regions (Jylland / Jutland: from 76 residents / km 2 to 80 residents / km 2). On the other hand, the tendency, already evident in the past, to urbanization has been accentuated: the urban population is estimated (1986) at about 85% of the total. However, it should be emphasized that the population of medium-small and small cities is increasing, while the capital and various other cities, including some capitals, are denouncing even considerable demographic declines or at least a prolonged stasis. Besides Copenhagen, just a dozen cities have a population of over 50,000.
Economic conditions. – According to ebizdir, the primary sector (and, within it, especially animal husbandry) continues to play a fundamental role, although it now occupies only 5% of the active population (less than half compared to 1971). The global production of the sector shows no signs of decreasing, and the extension of cultivated land remains stable (60.4% of arable land, 4.8% of meadows and pastures), while there have been significant variations in the composition of products: among cereals (which occupy two thirds of arable land) barley (4.9 million t in 1989) and wheat (3.2 million t) have assumed unprecedented importance, while rye production remains modest and drastically resized is that of oats. Much of the production is destined for industrial processing (beer: 8.7 million hl in 1987) or for animal feed. The cultivation of potatoes (11 million q) and beetroot (31 million q) must also be linked to the use of fodder, as well as the production of sugar (5.5 million q). The animal park is very numerous: cattle (1988) are 2.2 million (in the seventies they had exceeded 3 million), while pigs are about 9.2 million and poultry 16 million. The decline in cattle can be attributed, at least in part, to Community policies to curb the production of milk and derivatives (the Denmark produced, in 1988, about 5 million tonnes of milk). Finally, fishing is also of great importance, with an annual product, widely exported, ranging between 1.7 and 1.9 million tonnes, and various specialized ports (Esbjerg, Hirtshals, Skagen, Thyboron).
Among the industrial activities, the production of cement is traditional (about 2 million tons), while recently, after prospecting in the North Sea which became fruitful in 1982, an oil production began that reached (1987) 4.6 million of t; methane extraction has also started. The manufacturing industry, as well as in the food sector, has its strengths in the mechanical one (shipbuilding, motors, electromechanics), in textiles, in chemicals (fertilizers, pharmaceuticals). Overall, industry employs 28% of the active population.
The tertiary sector employs approximately two thirds of the active population. Of particular importance, also given the geographical position of the Denmark, are maritime transport, articulated in the main ports of Copenhagen, Århus and Ålborg. However, the fleet has undergone a recent contraction both in tonnage and in units (1240 vessels of over 100 GRT, for a total of 4.6 million GRT in 1988).
Largely dependent on international trade, the law has more than tripled, in the last decade, the value of trade. Membership of the EEC has somewhat modified its guidelines, reducing the role of the Scandinavian countries to about 20% (but Sweden is still the second partner of the Denmark) and raising the exchange with the countries to about 50% of the total. CEE countries (especially Germany and Great Britain).
Economic and financial policy. – At the beginning of the Eighties, the economic situation of Denmark was characterized by high inflation rates and large imbalances in the public and foreign accounts; the external competitive position was, moreover, largely positive following the devaluations of the exchange rate which took place between 1979 and 1981 (in this period the real exchange rate had depreciated by about 18%).
The new government, in office since the end of 1982, has adopted a strategy based on fiscal consolidation, a strict income policy and a stable change in the European Monetary System (EMS). The government has also pursued a policy of liberalizing capital movements with foreign countries.
The economic maneuver made it possible to stimulate growth and significantly reduce the rate of inflation. In the period 1983-86, industrial production grew by 17%, while investments doubled. Despite a large increase in the labor force, the unemployment rate fell from over 10% (1983-84) to under 8 (1986-87). Between 1982 and 1986 the inflation rate fell from 10.3 to 2.9%. The fiscal tightening was particularly effective: the general government deficit, which amounted to more than 9% of GDP in 1982, turned into a surplus starting in 1986.
The maneuver was, however, less effective as regards the external accounts. The current account deficit in fact increased from 1.2 billion dollars in 1983 (equal to 2.5% of GDP) to 4.5 billion in 1986 (5.3% of GDP). This worsening is attributable to the strong growth in domestic demand (on average 5.3% per year in the three-year period 1984-86), as well as to the progressive erosion of competitiveness following the effective appreciation of the krona against the other currencies of the EMS.
In 1986, the deterioration of the external accounts, in the presence of a relatively expansionary monetary policy, had a negative impact on the exchange rate. To cope with speculative pressures, the Central Bank raised interest rates and, on the occasion of the realignment of the EMS in January 1987, the Danish krone was devalued by 3% against the Deutsche Mark and the Dutch guilder and by 2% against the comparisons of the Belgian and Luxembourg francs.
In 1986 the expansionary cycle of the Danish economy came to an end. In addition to the rise in interest rates, measures were introduced to stimulate private savings and reduce consumption. In March of that year, the Central Bank limited foreign borrowing to finance consumer credit. A tax on consumer credit was introduced in October and there was a tightening of mortgage lending. Finally, starting in 1987, a far-reaching tax reform has begun which envisages, among other things, a reduction in the deductibility of interest.
In 1987, domestic demand was largely negative; GDP also decreased by 0.6%. However, following the reduction in working hours, the drop in production activity had no impact on the unemployment rate. In the following three years, however, the weakness of economic activity translated into increases in the unemployment rate, which in 1990 reached a value of around 10%.