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  • Anti-Car, Anti-Family?

    Filed at 4:49 pm under by dcobranchi

    Per Henrik Hansen, a Danish economist, wrote in June that Denmark’s welfare state policies have caused a disintegration of the family. Among the arguments he makes is one that might give advocates of public transportation pause:

    For most families with children it is a great help in their daily lives to have a car. Unfortunately it is a specific goal of the Danish welfare state to encourage people to use public transportation in which the government has invested a lot of money. People are being encouraged in many ways. There are very high taxes on cars, gasoline and car insurance. Car prices in Denmark are approximately three times the level that they are in the USA and so are gasoline prices. These taxes are in themselves preventive for many young families.

    At the same time public transportation is significantly subsidized. Other encouragements to shift to public transportation have been car traffic hampering devices such as extensive use of roundabouts, road bumps, narrowing of roads, closing down of second lanes to make more room for bicycles and pedestrians, not investing in new roads, electronic speed controls in many places, abolishment of parking spaces, huge increases in parking fees, huge increases in traffic violation fees, hiring of a lot of parking-ticket controllers and traffic police and lowering of the allowed level of alcohol in the blood when driving to practically nothing.

    Not being able to have the convenience of a car when you have small children, or if you do have a car then to be financially severely burdened and also hampered in its use adds further stress to the modern Danish family, living in a world of specialization and the division of labor, where not all activities can be expected to take place in the close neighborhood.

    Hansen also notes that 83% of two-parent families with children have both parents working full-time, and that nearly 77% of children under the age of six spend most of their days in a state-funded daycare or kindergarten (up from seven percent in 1965.) Of course, we can’t blame the parents for working two jobs—somebody has to pay Denmark’s high tax rates.

    One Response to “Anti-Car, Anti-Family?”

    Comment by
    J Aron
    August 27th, 2004
    at 11:42 am

    Things in Denmark are so bad that anything can be shown to have a causal relationship to the distruction of family life there..