The secret of the happy Danes

Year after year, Denmark tops the UN World Happiness Report. We offer a few (unscientific) theories as to why the Danes continually take the no. 1 spot.

In March 2016, the UN World Happiness Report (WHR) announced that Denmark once again ranked as ‘the happiest country in the world’ – the third time our Scandinavian country has topped the UN list since it was introduced in 2012.

Denmark: a country with high taxes and long winters. Not exactly fertile ground for breeding overjoyed citizens, right?

So how can we explain the Danes’ stellar happiness rating?

Girl having fun

Few have too little

First of all, happiness can be defined in a number of ways. According to the WHR, happiness is more closely linked to social equality and community spirit rather than how much money you earn or how big a car you drive.

So those aforementioned high taxes might play an important role in securing Danes’ happiness. They help level the playing field, making Denmark a relatively egalitarian country where the costs of health care, college education and child care are shared.

To quote the 18th century Danish thinker Nikolaj Grundtvig, Denmark is a country where “few have too much, and even fewer have too little.”

In some countries, a large public sector might be considered a drawback, but the Danes appear comfortable with the arrangement. The UN report also found Danes express trust in their government (there are nine parties in the national parliament!) and enjoy low levels of corruption in the public and private sector.

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