Financing of the National Churches in the Nordic Countries, England and Scotland

Sidsel Kjems, Trine Bille

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearchpeer-review


This article analyses the financing of seven national churches in a large comparative study. The national churches in the Nordic countries and in England and Scotland are compared. They have many similarities in terms of history, intertwinement with the state, type and level of religiosity of the population, public role and public responsibilities, but the level of financing differs greatly.
The purpose of the article is to discuss possible explanations for the differences in the level of financing. Adjusting for cost of public service tasks and for GDP leaves a large difference in financing among the seven national churches. We suggest that the source of finance is a determinant factor for the level of finance of national churches. Comparing the sources and level of financing of seven national churches in the Nordic countries, England and Scotland shows that financing by a taxation right yields larger revenue for a national church than financing by general tax over the state or municipality budgets. Tax-deductible, private donations yield the lowest revenue of the three financing models. Classical economic theory finds it hard to explain why the old established churches in Denmark, Sweden
and Finland has a much higher level of finance than Church of England and Church of Scotland, as all churches mainly are financed by voluntary contributions. We will draw on the theory of choice architecture to explain the phenomenon.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2017
Number of pages29
Publication statusPublished - 2017
EventThe 8th Nordic Conference on Cultural Policy Research - University of Jyväskylä, Helsinki, Finland
Duration: 23 Aug 201725 Aug 2017
Conference number: 8


ConferenceThe 8th Nordic Conference on Cultural Policy Research
LocationUniversity of Jyväskylä
Internet address


  • Choice architecture
  • Behavioural economics
  • Choice environment
  • Church tax
  • Financing of churches

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