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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Population: Demographic Situation, Languages and Religions


1.Political, Social and Economic Background and Trends

1.3Population: Demographic Situation, Languages and Religions

Last update: 16 June 2022

Demographic situation

Land area and number of inhabitants

Denmark covers 42,947 square kilometres and consists of the peninsula of Jutland (29,677 square kilometres) and 443 islands (13,270 square kilometres). The biggest islands are Zealand, North Jutlandic Island and Funen.

The number of inhabitants is 5,840,045 (2021).

Number of inhabitants 2000-2021


Source: Statistics Denmark 2021.

The Kingdom of Denmark also comprises of two self-governing territories:

  • The Faroe Islands: 1,396 square kilometres with 52,967 inhabitants (Jan 2021)
  • Greenland: 2,166,086 square kilometres with 56,081 inhabitants (2020).

Age distribution of the population

In 2021, the average age of the Danish population is 42 years, which is approximately four years older than in 1980. The life expectancy for men is 79.5 years, while women can expect to live 83.6 years (2019/2020).

Source: Statistics Denmark.

Population pyramid 2021

Population pyramid 2021

Source: Statistics Denmark 2021.

The age distribution of the population since 2000 is shown in the table below.

Age distribution 2000-2021, pct.

0-14 years181918171616
15-64 years676666646464
65+ years151516192020

Source: Statistics Denmark 2021 based on the number of inhabitants 1 January.

The percentage of the working-age population is decreasing. Since 2000, the dependency ratio have increased almost 15 pct.

Dependency ratio 2000-2020, pct.

Dependency ratio50.

Source: The World Bank 2021. Age dependency ratio – Denmark.

Employment and unemployment

In the third quarter of 2019, the employment rate was 75.5 pct. - the fifth highest employment rate in the European Union. Three out four people between 15 and 64 years were employed. In 2019, the net unemployment rate was 3 pct. - the lowest since 2009. In 2020, it rose to 4.2 pct.

Unemployment rate 2000-2020, pct.

Net unemployment rate4.

Source: Statistics Denmark 2021.


As of July 2020, immigrants and descendants comprise 13.8 pct. of the Danish population. 8.9 pct. of the Danish population were immigrants and descendants of non-Western origin, while 4.9 pct. of the population were immigrants and descendants of Western origin. The three largest groups of immigrants and descendants are persons originating from Turkey (8 pct.), Poland (6.0 pct.) and Syria (5.4 pct.).

Number of immigrants 1987 and 2020

Non-western immigrants69,349356,090
Western immigrants90,975254,308

Source: Ministry of Immigration and Integration. International Migration – Denmark 2020 (table 3.1)

The table below shows the long-term migration to and from Denmark since 2000.

Migration in Denmark 2000-2018, persons

Net migration11,0375,80110,18533,8674,288

Source: Ministry of Immigration and Integration International Migration – Denmark 2020 (table 1.1)


Danish is the official language used in legislation, the public administration and in the education system.

In higher education, it is possible to offer individual courses and entire educational programmes where English is the language of instruction.


Freedom of religion is a right protected in the Danish constitution. In 2021, 74.3 pct. of the population are registered members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark (Ministry of Ecclesiastical Affairs).

Religious education is a compulsory subject for pupils in the Danish Folkeskole. The pupils learn about the Evangelical Lutheran Church, ethics and philosophy of life as well as non-Christian religions.

At upper secondary level, religious education is compulsory in the Higher General Examination Programme (STX) and the Higher Preparatory Examination programme (hf).