Denmark slides in affluence ranking
OECD figures show Denmark’s GDP has been overtaken by other countries.
Denmark fell to 11th place in May 2008 from 7th place in 1996 in terms of gross domestic product per capita, adjusted for purchasing power, according to figures from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Although Denmark has had a strong economy, falling unemployment and rising private consumption, its GDP per capita was overtaken by Canada, Australia, Ireland and the Netherlands in the period from 1996 to 2008.
The OECD also sees economic growth in Denmark reaching only one percent a year from 2010 to 2014 – the lowest growth rate among the organisation’s 30 member states. This means that Denmark’s GDP growth will be overtaken by Sweden and Britain.
‘There is a very large group who could be active in the labour market, but who receive transfer incomes because they are ill or on early retirement, or who receive other welfare benefits,’ said Jens Lundsgaard, who heads the OECD’s office for Denmark and Sweden.
‘This means that the overall number of people available for work is not as high as we believe. In addition, we don’t work as many hours as in other countries.’ Productivity is also comparatively low, he added. (mdl)
Half a Million People in Finland Feel Discrimination
Published 11.07.2008, 18.27 (updated 11.07.2008, 18.28)
Over half a million people in Finland have experienced discrimination, according to a Eurobarometer study. Some 15 percent of the population says they were discriminated against last year.
Discrimination due to age and gender was the most widespread. A large portion of ethnic minorities also felt discriminated against.
Nearly two-thirds of Finns say they know their rights if they are discriminated against. Throughout the EU, that number was on average just one-third.
Finns also say they are satisfied with government’s programmes to prevent discrimination. Nearly two-thirds say the government does enough to stop discrimination. Again, in the EU, that number was just one-third.
Neighbourly Feelings Don’t Extend to Roma
The poll also asked respondents how they would feel if a member of an ethnic minority moved next door. A large number of Finns say they would be disturbed if a member of the Roma community became their neighbour.
However, according to the research, Finns are more often friends or acquaintances with Roma than EU citizens are on average. In addition, nearly half of Finns have an acquaintance who is an immigrant or a member of an ethnic minority. Throughout the EU, that number is slightly higher — or 55 percent of the population.
Seventy percent of Finns have friends or acquaintances with different religions or beliefs. That number in the EU is 60 percent. Some 1,000 people in Finland participated in the survey carried out in February-March of this year.
Survey backs Dutch only in public
Monday 14 July 2008
Some 66% of the native Dutch think people who live in the Netherlands should only speak Dutch on the street, according to a survey by MCA Communicatie for De Pers newspaper.
Men are keener on Dutch than women: 76% of men think other languages should be ruled out, compared with 56% of women.
The paper does not make it clear if people think speaking Dutch should be enforced by law, or that it is simply preferable.
The paper says ‘the good news’ is that younger immigrants are more in favour of speaking Dutch on the streets than their parents. Nevertheless, the large majority of newcomers think they should be free to speak which ever language they like, De Pers says.
Meanwhile, the Volkskrant reports that special classes at primary school for children who need help with Dutch are proving a success. The Hague, Rotterdam and Amsterdam began experimenting with the extra classes two years ago.
‘Children whose Dutch is not well-developed are followed by it their entire school career,’ said The Hague’s education executive Sander Dekker. ‘These classes are a first-class way of dealing with that.’
Researcher urges more complaining in Norway
First published: 14 Jul 2008, 16:30
Norwegians often criticize themselves for being too quick to complain when they don’t receive the goods or services they expect. Wrong, claims a Norwegian researcher. He doesn’t think his compatriots complain enough.
“It varies from branch to branch, but research shows that more than 80 percent of (Norwegians) don’t complain when they’re dissatisified with something,” Bård Tronvoll, a lecturer at the College of Hedmark, told newspaper Aftenposten.
That’s too bad, Tronvoll maintains, because complaints can be positive. “By making it easy for customers to complain, companies can learn what’s wrong and use the opportunity to make it right,” said Tronvoll, who holds a doctorate degree in the subject of service.
Foreigners in Norway may tend to agree with Tronvoll. While Norwegians often accuse each other of complaining and never being satisfied — here’s even an expression for it, en kulture of sutring (a culture of whining) — outsiders often have a different impression.
Many of Aftenposten’s non-Norwegian readers, for example, have sent in comments over the years, bemoaning “Norwegian passivity.” Norwegians, they claim, merely accept everything from the country’s high prices, to the varying quality of produce in the market to the huge role the state plays in many aspects of human life.
“Sometimes I want to want to scream to my fellow shoppers in the grocery store, ‘why do you put up with this??'” wrote one immigrant from the US who had moved to a town on Norway’s southern coast a few years ago and was still reeling from the effects of sticker shock combined with a limited variety of goods on offer and poor, often unfriendly, service at the cash register.
The squeaky wheel gets the grease, after all, and honest feedback from customers can boost business, Tronvoll believes.
“If customers don’t have a means of effectively complaining, they’ll simply be dissatisfied and have a poor impression of the business,” he said. “And they’ll pass on that impression to others.”
A recent survey conducted by research firm Synovate for an organization that promotes higher levels of service, HSMAI, found that the retail and travel branches scored slightly higher than the bank and indsurance branch and much higher than public services and the high tech/telecoms branches. But none of them scored much better than average.
“That’s not good enough, and there’s no excuse for it,” said Per Morten Hoff, secretary general of the information technology association IKT-Norge.
As Ingunn Hofseth of HSMAI put it: “Complaints aren’t a problem, it’s how they’re handled,” she said. “And here in Norway, we have a lot to learn.”
Study: violence increasing on streets of Stockholm
Published: 15 Jul 08 08:42 CET
Street violence in Stockholm is rising, according to a study by Stockholm South General Hospital (Södersjukhuset).
The study is based on data gathered over several years on patients admitted to the hospital’s emergency room.
“We have more injuries resulting from violence than we have heart attacks, and we have the most heart attacks of any hospital in the entire country,” said the hospital’s Sören Sanz, who authored the report, to Sveriges Radio.
While the study also reveals that there are fewer patients being admitted with knife and gunshot wounds, that doesn’t necessarily indicate that Stockholm’s streets are any less violent.
Rather than firearms and knives, attackers instead cut their victims with broken bottles, or kick them violently.
Kicking wounds have increased roughly six-fold since 2000, now accounting for nearly 45 percent of emergency room admissions due to violent injuries.