The unemployed in the Danish newspaper debate from the 1840s to the 1990s

Research report

July 2008


Externally reviewed

Study Paper No. 21


Written by: Bent Jensen


The events of 1848 also heralded the demise of absolute monarchy in Denmark. In the wake of a deep crisis in Europe’s industrial heartlands, debate about the unemployed raged as well. In Paris, revolutionary workers discussed ‘the right to work’ as a universal human right, and similar demands were raised in the Copenhagen newspaper world. Other fixed points in the history of the unemployment debate are the period up to the passing of the first act on state approved unemployment insurance funds in 1907, the deep recession of the 1930s, the liberation summer of 1945 and the welfare state’s revision of unemployment legislation in 1967. The post-1973 crisis saw the debate flare up again, and the flames had still not been doused completely by the mid-1990s.

The book provides a wider perspective on how the more influential Danish newspapers dealt with the theme of “the unemployed” during this 150-year period – in the good, the less auspicious and the downright awful years – outlining the arguments that the leading Danish newspapers deployed on the subject.