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Bent Rold Andersen
by himself:

I am professor of economy. I have been teaching at the universities of Copenhagen and Roskilde....My main field is social policy and labour market policy. In addition to that I have worked very much for the government for a long time. My work has always been on the borderline between politicks and research. Therefore I have been in several committees during that time. For a few months I was a minister of social affairs, thirty years ago. Now I am retired and have been elected in July a member of the city council of N≥stved.... where we are now...

> Q> How would you describe your country's social policy?
A> Well... the most important characteristic of Danish system is that we have a lot of income compensating benefits and these are, almost all of them, financed through the general tax system of this country. That is to say, that we do not have, like most other countries, social insurance system - we could call it a social security system - this means that there is not any connection between the rights of a person and what he has contributed to the system. Everybody who lives in Denmark and has lived here for some years, has the right for the benefits i.e. retirement, the access to health system - it is all free... either for hospital or general practitioners. Everybody has the access and nobody asks how much have you paid in contributions or in taxes. So, we have cut off the connection between what other people might call the rights and duties. The idea behind this is that those who have not been lucky to have job in the labour market should also have access to the same services as those who have been fortunate and had a job, maybe, all that time. So that means for instance, that a person who has been handicapped and unable to work for his whole life - he would have the same access to the general retirement system as well as a person who has worked heavily and paid contributions for the whole of his life. That is the main characteristic which differs itself from what you see in most other countries, at least in Europe and maybe also in your country...

Q> What has been changed in Danish social policy in last twenty years?
A> Well... it is not a simple answer. The criteria, the fundamental criteria of the Danish system has been modified very much since the middle of the eighties and a system of labour market related to retirement has been introduced to be put above the general system That means that some years ago there was no distinction between the person who has worked his whole life and somebody else who has not contributed to the production. But now there is, not because of the fundamental system but because of the trade unions role in the negotiations with the employers which have succeeded in having (obtaining) additional labour market related retirements (in regards to the general system). Some people would see this as an improvement - I do not see it like that...

Q> Why?
A> I like systems that transfer money from the wealthy to the less wealthy people. I know that there are very narrow limitations for doing that for those who are working in the industries and who work under market conditions. Market conditions do not create equality - they create inequality - and it is necessary if you have market conditions to have that. But when you grow old and retire - you can use the retirement to compensate for the inequalities which were created during the productive years and that is what I like in Danish system. It creates more equality among elderly people - so it is compensation - so it is a kind of compensation. Now this has been changed very much by the introduction of labour market related retirements for those who have really worked for their whole life. This also means that differences in amounts. Those who have earned a lot throughout their life - will get higher amounts in labour marked related retirements than those who have earned less than that. In the general system, tax finance systems, everybody gets the same amount - so this creates equality whereas in our system, in many ways, creates more inequality. So you can say that system has been more expensive delivering more money to social retirement funds than before, but the target of creating equality has not been reached yet. Whether this is good or bad depends on who is making the evaluation. I would rather like to see the general retirement approved.

The second part of the interview with Mr. Bent Andersen
will be published in the next printed issue of the
newsletter and online (may-june 2002.)