High taxes and the social welfare state
As Kay Xander Mellish says in her book Working with Danes: Tips for Americans, Danes willingly pay very high taxes in order to support the Danish social welfare state.
“Danes love their cradle-to-grave welfare state. In two decades of living here, I’ve never met a single person who wanted it dismantled, ” writes Mellish, a dual citizen of the US and Denmark.
“But it is a commitment, a national commitment. Everyone with the ability to work must work, and must pay substantial taxes, in order to finance the services shared by all.
“At the same time, everyone accepts that there will be limits on services so there is enough to go around.”
Mellish points out that, for example, annual physicals are unknown in the Danish health system, and that mammograms are given only once every two years starting at age 50, as opposed to every year starting at 40 many places in the US.
She also notes that stay-at-home parents are uncommon in Denmark.
“The tax system makes it very difficult to survive on one income, even a hefty one,” she writes.
“For families with young children, the ‘Danish way’ is for both parents to work full time and put the kids in government-run day care right after their first birthday.”
Even the children of the Danish Royal Family – such as teenage Prince Christian, the future King Christian XI – took their turns in government-run day care, Mellish points out.