Mapping Church Economy in the Nordic Countries, England and Scotland: A Comparative Analysis

Trine Bille*, Sidsel Kjems*

*Corresponding author for this work

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    In most countries, the established churches constitute an important component of heritage and culture, both material and immaterial. While the financing of arts and culture in general is heavily researched, the literature on church economy and the financing of established (national) churches is limited. How wealthy are the churches today? How much do they receive in income per annum? How are they financed? How does public expenditure on churches compare with public expenditure on the cultural sector in general? The purpose of this study is to investigate and compare the economy of the established churches in the Nordic countries: Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland. Furthermore, these Nordic church economies will be compared with the established churches in Scotland and England, which operate with a different model of financing (based on private donations). The study is based on an extensive empirical work and a comprehensive data collection drawing on a variety of available sources. This is a truly novel contribution, being the first study of its kind. The results of our study show significant differences in the level of income in the seven national churches. This is interesting, as levels of religiosity do not differ greatly between the seven countries, and any differences are not correlated with the level of income. It is beyond the scope of this article to explain the difference we have found in the level of income of the established churches. However, the results show that level of income of the churches in the Nordic countries is quite high – also compared with the total public expenditure on arts and culture in general.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalNordisk Kulturpolitisk Tidskrift
    Issue number1
    Pages (from-to)78-92
    Number of pages15
    Publication statusPublished - 11 Jun 2021


    • Church economy
    • Financing
    • Established churches
    • Cultural heritage

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