In recent years, Denmark has been successful in ensuring and maintaining a low unemployment rate. However, almost one third of the working-age population remains dependent on public transfers, a fact which poses questions on both social inclusion and financial pressures on the welfare state. In this paper, we consider more closely the interaction between the social safety net and the need and scope for maintaining a high employment rate in a welfare state of the Scandinavian type. The focus is on the basic dilemma between ambitious distributional goals on the one hand and work incentives on the other. The paper discusses policy issues related to minimizing welfare dependence that improve the transition from welfare to work. We consider these issues in a life cycle perspective considering entry into the labour market, maintenance of labour market contact, and exit from the labour market. Finally, we consider some recent reform proposals and initiatives in Denmark.