Birthplace Criteria

The birthplace criterion, as part of the Greenland Civil Servants Act, was used in Greenland until 1991. It determined a person's salary and other conditions of work according to their place of birth. Since World War II, during the period characterized as the era of modernization in Greenland, there was a need to attract qualified personnel from outside Greenland because there were not enough well-educated Greenlanders. The personnel were needed both by the Danish state in its work in Greenland and later, from 1979, by the Home Rule government. Due to the lack of educated Greenlanders, special conditions (e.g., higher salaries, free annual vacation trips, and generally better working conditions) were offered to both blue and white collar workers from outside, chiefly from Denmark.

The fundamental principle for the difference in salary was linked to education as well as productivity. The idea was that Danes were entitled to higher salaries and the other bonuses in order to compete with the Danish marketplace and to compensate them for having to live in Greenland. The reason for the Greenlanders' lower salary and lack of bonuses was that they should reflect the level of economic development in the country and it was felt that the Greenlanders' productivity was lower.

The legislation enacted in 1946 concerning the salaries of persons working for the Greenland Administration differentiated among civil servants, Greenlandic civil servants, and hired help. According to the civil servant law, both Danes and Greenlanders could be civil servants; however, there were a number of exceptions because positions such as ship captains, settlement managers, and the like could only be held by Danes. The salaries of civil servants were stipulated in the civil servant law (Tjenestemandsloven) of June 6, 1946.

Prices and salaries in Denmark, in principle, determined the economic conditions of the civil servants. Not only did the Danes receive a higher salary but they also received special bonuses of free housing and refund of expenses for fuel. Furthermore, Danes working in Greenland did not have to pay taxes. In theory, the Greenlanders were also tax-free, but in actual fact they had to pay several indirect taxes that were used to fund the Greenland Administration and other activities.

Different legislation has, over the years, tried to address the inequity. Law nr. 5 of June 7, 1958 made a distinction between those "belonging to Greenland" and those "sent out" from Denmark. This last group got a special Greenland allowance. If a Greenlander after their eighth year had lived outside Greenland for more than ten years and was hired in Denmark, they would also be entitled to the special enumeration.

The G-60 strategy for development in Greenland dealt with income policy in Greenland. Law nr. 168 of May 27, 1964 differentiated between "belonging to Greenland" (hjemmehoerende) and "not belonging to Greenland" (ikke-hjemmehoerende). The primary criterion for salary and other compensation became that of the person's birthplace. According to this law, any person who at the time of being hired lived in Greenland, was born in Greenland, or had settled in Greenland before their fifth birthday was considered as "belonging to Greenland" and received lesser salary. The "not-belonging" person received a higher salary plus a number of special bonuses: a Greenland allowance usually set as a percentage of the salary, free vacation travel to Denmark including the family, reduced rent, and earlier retirement.

Law nr. 263 of June 9, 1971 reinforced these criteria and stated that: "... whereas the reason for the present salary system still are valid and there is for some time to come a need for two has been accepted that it is not possible to find another criterion that to a higher degree than the birthplace criterion is fair for all sides." The criteria for the higher salary and bonuses were the place of residence at the time of being hired and birthplace outside Greenland, usually in Denmark (or if the person was a Greenlander, then they would have had to live at least 10 years outside Greenland).

However, the birthplace criterion had led to a great deal of criticism because it was regarded as unfair, discriminatory, and racist. In fact, many were so upset about it that it was one of the main reasons for the for mation of the first political party in Greenland, the Inuit Party. The birthplace criterion was finally repealed in 1991 by means of a new civil servants law that unequivocally did away with all unequal treatment in salary and in other respects because of the place of birth.

Birger Poppel and Marianne Stenb^k

See also Denmark Strait; G-60; Greenland; Greenland Home Rule Act; Inuit Party; Naming; Olsen, J0rgen

Further Reading

Boserup, M., 0konomisk politik i Grönland, Copenhagen, 1963 S0rensen, Axel Kj®r, Danmark—Grönland i det 20. Arhun-drede, Arnold Busck, Copenhagen: Nyt Nordisk Forlag, 1983

The Greenland Commission of 1948, Betwnkning afgivet af

Gr0nlandskommissionen af 1948, Copenhagen, 1950 The Greenland Committee of 1960, Betwnkning afgivet af Gr0nlandsudvalget af 1960, Copenhagen

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