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EACEA National Policies Platform


4. Social Inclusion

4.1 General context

Last update: 24 March 2022
  1. Main challenges to social inclusion
  2. Definitions and concept

Main challenges to social inclusion

Despite the Danish welfare state’s broad range of services and benefits, certain groups in society are socially excluded or at risk of exclusion.

Marginalised people are often:

  • NEETs (Not in education, employment or training)
  • People living in poverty
  • People with disabilities
  • People with problematic drug/alcohol use
  • People living in homelessness
  • People onvolved in prostitution
  • People in criminality
  • Minorities, for instance, people with a migrant background

What leads to marginalisation and exclusion?

In Denmark, there are several challenges to social inclusion. A study from the Danish National Centre for Social Research (SFI) – now called VIVE – established that very complex mechanisms lead to social marginalisation.

Marginalised young people come from all layers of society.


Aspects of marginalisation in Denmark

LevelsAspectsFactors of vulnerability
Structures and society

Labour market Income Housing

Ethnic segregation

Unemployment Poverty/low income Lack of housing High rent Discrimination

Measures and programmes

Public benefits


Organisation and coordination


Low benefits Sanctions Lack of sufficient and focused measures Fragmentation Lack of coordination Lack of early intervention

Network and family

Family circumstances

Civil status/relationship Social circle

No/few family relations Complicated family relations Single/divorce, loss of partner Lack of close relations/friendship Undesirable friendship

Personal matters

Physical health

Mental health

Abuse Crime

Social matters Employment Education


Housing Migrant background


Chronic/physical illness Disability In need of care Mental illness Child neglect/neglect in youth Alcohol, hash, and drug abuse Criminal/violent behaviour Prison stay/sentences Lack of social skills/social capital Unemployed Unfinished primary school No education leading to a vocational/professional qualification Homelessness/eviction Migrant/refugee/descendants of migrants Young/old

SFI, (2015)

Young people from marginalised families are at greater risk of marginalisation, but about half of the age group of 18-24 years that are socially marginalised come from average middle-class homes with parents who have an education, employment and no experience of abuse, crime, mental illness, etc.

The number of young people not in education, employment or training (NEETs) has increased since the financial crisis and has now stabilised at a higher level than before the crisis.

The number of homeless people has increased. In 2017, the VIVE national homeless survey indicated that the number of young homeless people in particular is rising. However, the 2019 VIVE national homeless survey indicates a minor decrease in the number of homeless people in Denmark, which may be the result of uncertainty in the registration of homeless people. Thus, VIVE concludes that the number of homeless people has begun to stagnate.



The number of children and young people with mental illness is rising. A 2017 report from the Danish Health Authority shows that the number of young people in the 0-18-year age group with anxiety, depression, eating disorders, or ADHD has tripled between 2006 and 2016 (Danish Health Authority, 2017).

Persons10 36714 68321 70027 27329 88832 625

Furthermore, the National Health Profile from 2017 shows that 25% of the population felt stressed. Forty-one per cent of young women in the 16-24-year age group have stress or stress-related symptoms.

For more information about young people's mental health in DEnmark, see section 7.5, 'Mental Health'.

There is no regular national survey of young people’s social inclusion. However, primary and lower secondary education institutions (folkeskole), preparatory basic education and training (FGU), as well as general and vocational upper secondary education institutions are obliged to conduct an annual school satisfaction survey(trivselsmåling). The objective of the measurement is to strengthen and monitor pupils’ and students’ well-being. Data from the surveys is accessible via a database on the Ministry of Children and Education’s website. The data contains information on, for instance, social well-being, bullying, and learning environment. Furthermore, data can be broken down by origin, age, education institution, and gender. The data helps institutions, municipalities, and the ministry identify issues with well-being and, therefore, social inclusion.


Definitions and concept

In 2014, the National Board of Social Services and University College South Denmark established a definition of the concept inclusion:

‘Inclusion is when a person or a group of people actively and equally participate in mutually developing communities despite differences in qualifications and functional capacity, including contextual factors. “Equally” refers to a mutual accept of differences. “Communities” refer to common societal institutions where people interact and affect each other, for instance employment, education, associational life and local society.’