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Page:Economic Development in Denmark Before and During the World War.djvu/98

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ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN DENMARK

reduced and in 1917 were only a fraction of what they had been.

Of course, it was not only agriculture that suffered under these circumstances. The supply of coal fell below one-half of the normal quantity, and the people had to be most economical in the use of it. The scarcity of coal and raw materials forced many industries to shut down.

The first years of the war, however, occasioned comparatively little privation in Denmark; even 1916 was a good agricultural and commercial year. It was not until America entered the war that real trouble began. This is shown by the statistics of unemployment for 1917 and 1918. The great efforts made through commercial treaties with the belligerent countries to obtain supplies could not make up for the general scarcity. In 1916 organized workmen were unemployed 1,900,000 days; in 1917, 3,600,000 days; and the statistics for 1918, calculated on the basis of the first nine months of the year only, show a new doubling to 7,000,000 days.

Legislative Measures rendered necessary by the War

It is not surprising that the government was now forced into a series of encroachments upon the economic life of its subjects. Denmark was living under the same conditions as most of the other countries, and was having, on the whole, the same experiences. Immediately after the outbreak of the war an act was issued (August 6, 1914), whereby the Minister of Justice was authorized temporarily to prohibit the exportation of certain goods. On the following day a provisional act was promulgated authorizing the government to take steps to regulate the price of foodstuffs and other commodities, and permitting it, after full compensation, to take over such supplies as were necessary for the life of the nation. On the following day, again, a Price Regulating Committee was appointed with authority to take such measures as it deemed necessary to supply the country with essentials. In this way there was initiated a state socialism