Employment, Unemployment and the Like

AS the question of the level of employment and unemployment pops up now and again, I decided to take a look at Statistics Denmark’s databases.

First, the levels of labour market activity and employment from 1995 until mid-2011:

One problem here is that the table uses 16-66 year-olds; something which probably distorts the picture, but the main improvements were during the 1990s with a second increase in the level of employment from 2005-2008. Note the drop in labour market activity and employment levels from 2009.

Second, the share of unemployment from 1995 until mid-2011:

Here we see a fairly steady fall from 1995 until 2000 followed by a period of steady or increasing unemployment. The boom years from 2005 to 2008 show until unemployment levels begin to rise in 2009. Needless to say, the fast increase in the level of unemployment is one of the main problems the government is facing in the campaign.

Note: All numbers are seasonally adjusted.

Life Expectancies

Just for fun (well, it depends on what you think is entertaining) I decided to do one of my usual raids of Statistics Denmark’s tables. This time, we are looking at the life expectancy of Danish 60-year-olds from 1981 onward. Unfortunately, SD didn’t have readily available series for 1980 and earlier.

But the main point is that in 1981 the average 60 year-old man could expect to live until the age of 77 (average life expectancy for all age groups is lower because people die at all ages) while the average woman could expect to live until the age of 81,5. The lines are fairly flat until the mid-1990s when average life expectancy begins to increase so that today’s average 60-year-olds can expect to live until the age of 80,5 and 83,5 years, respectively.

Obviously, this is an indirect indicator of the health of 60-65-year-olds – we should remember that the treatment of cardiovascular diseases and cancer has improved in the last 30 years – but if we compare somebody who was born in 1950 he or she is likely to be in better health than somebody with the same social background born in 1920. To this we should of course add that the average person born in 1950 is likely to be much better educated than his or her counterparts born in 1920 and this influences the general picture.

Crime Spree

Since the argument that crime in Denmark has spiralled out of control since the abolition of systematic border controls is used to motivate Wednesday’s decision to tighten immigration controls, I decided to take a look at the statistics (Source: Statistics Denmark, Statistikbanken). This is a little complicated as the data series break in 2007 but this is the result for a search of selected types of theft:

The phenomenon which has attracted the most interest from media is the so-called “home robberies” where burglars enter a house even if they can see that people are at home – popular myth has it that this form of crime is especially popular among East Europeans but this has never been proven (rather, a proportional part of the “home robbers” appear to be Danes). The data do not give information about this type of crime but it is covered by “burglaries in private homes” (the full dark-blue line) which besides a spike in the 4th quarter of 2009 doesn’t really increase dramatically. There is a trend towards somewhat higher numbers but nothing like an out-of-control increase.

The category “other kinds of theft” does show an increase from 2008 onward. Curiously, the yearly variations are at their maximum in the 3rd quarters while “burglaries in private homes” always culminate in the 4th quarters (when people are away for Christmas)

Unemployment 2007-2011

Prompted by an observation by a Twitter follower, I made some graphs using Statistics Denmark’s very useful databank.

First, the – seasonally corrected – share of unemployed (insured and non-insured):

That Denmark received a nasty wake-up call in the second half of 2008 is pretty obvious. The rise in unemployment stopped in mid-2010 but gross unemployment is still at a high rate. (Gross unemployment includes people in different kinds of activation measures)

Next: Unemployment in different age-groups.

25-29-year-olds have been hit hard by the economic crisis (and economic historians and economists have pointed to a generational effect here: Graduates and skilled workers who get a bad start to their adult working-lives may pay a penalty for the rest of their careers). It is not quite 1987-1994, but it should give cause for concern. And politically speaking, the 25-29-year-olds may prove to be a difficult group for the government to appeal to in the coming election campaign.

Finally, a breakdown of data after geography:

Bornholm is a small region which is heavily dependent on tourism. More interesting is Western Zealand, Funen and Norther Jutland which qualify as the weakest regional labour markets in Denmark. And despite all talk about Copenhagen as the economic motor of Denmark, the City of Copenhagen still has a high level of unemployment while the commuter areas of Northern and Eastern Zealand have low unemployment. (Actually, Western Zealand is also a large commuting area these days – something which only underlines the weakness of the local labour market)

The Big Two

(Click to view large)

Just out of curiosity, I calculated the vote share won by the largest two parties in the elections for the Danish Folketing from 1918 (when proportional representation was introduced) to 2007. For most of the time, the Social Democrats and the Liberals have been the two largest parties with 1935, 1943, 1968, 1971 (Conservatives), 1973, 1977 (Progress Party) and 1981-1990 (Conservatives) as the exceptions.

From 1918 to 1960 the share varied between 60 to 65 percent of the vote, but from then on the share has declined and hovered between 50 and 55 percent. The resurgence of, first, the Social Democrats and then the Liberals put the share back to the 60 percent level but in 2005 and 2007 we have been back to the levels of the 1970s and 1980s. Recent opinion polls suggest that the combined share of the Social Democrats and the Liberals is around 50 percent.

As you have probably noted, I have a serious grudge against the indiscriminate use by journalists of the term “presidential election” with regard to Danish election campaigns and I would like (again) to point out that focusing solely on the leaders of the two main parties does lead to reporting losing some important aspects of the election campaign and the political process.

While we are at it: There are many ways of calculating the fractionalisation in a parliament. Here is a graph with the effective number of parties at the start of the parliamentary terms from 1953 to 2007.