Denmark’s trade balance within knowledge

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For a small open economy like the Danish one, international knowledge exchange is crucial for growth and prosperity.

Based on a number of statistical indicators for knowledge exchange, this analysis sheds light on Denmark’s participation in the global knowledge society. The analysis creates a complete overview of knowledge coming in and out of Denmark and thus providing a knowledge base for making recommendations on how we in Denmark remain a competitive knowledge economy in the future.

Main conclusions

Denmark's trade in knowledge is extensive. This can be seen across indicators of knowledge exchange within financial resources, human resources and collaborations. However, compared to many other OECD countries, Denmark has experienced a lower growth in knowledge exchange in recent years.

Denmark has a large international trade within technological knowledge services

Denmark’s exports of technological knowledge services increased by an average of approx. 9% annually during the period 2010-2017. Imports increased by approx. 8% annually for the same period. Compared to 25 OECD countries, Denmark had the 11th largest exports and the 9th largest imports of technological knowledge services in 2015.

International students make up a large proportion of students in higher education in Denmark

The number of international students increased by about 4,500 from 2013 to 2016, and in 2016, international students accounted for 11% of all enrolled students in Denmark. Thus, among the 35 OECD countries, Denmark had the 10th largest share of international students.

Compared to other OECD countries, Denmark has in general a low growth in the exchange of knowledge

In almost all the statistical indicators used, Denmark had a below average growth rate for an OECD country. For some of the indicators, this may be due to the fact that Denmark already had a high level of knowledge exchange at the end of the year. Hence, it may be natural for growth to be lower in subsequent years. Denmark had a low growth, especially within economic knowledge resources, such as exports of technological knowledge services.

The study is commissioned by the Danish Council for Research and Innovation Policy (DFIR).


HBS Economics (2019): "Danmarks videnhandelsbalance, sammenfatning"

HBS Economics (2019): "Danmarks videnhandelsbalance, indikatorrapport"

HBS Economics (2019): "Danmarks videnhandelsbalance, baggrundsrapport"