Why Is Denmark The Happiest Country In The World

Happy Danes: Why is Denmark the happiest country in the world?

Happy Danes… Why is Denmark the happiest country in the world? This question crops up frequently during discussions about a country’s quality of life. So, today, we’re going explain why people in Denmark are so happy!

Every year, the world ranks its countries based on things like economic opportunity, equality, and general happiness. For sheer positivity, Denmark often comes out on top. 

Before we answer the question “Why is Denmark the happiest country in the world?” in this article, we should note it didn’t win the top spot on the Gallup World Poll

For 2021, Denmark dropped just below Finland (another Scandinavian region), with a happiness score of 7.646 compared to 7.809. 

Despite this, the location remains among the happiest in the world, year after year.

While Denmark can occasionally drop into second or third place, like this year, it always appears towards the top of the list as one of the top three happiest countries. 

So, why are Danes so happy?

Why Is Denmark The Happiest Country In The World

Why is Denmark so happy?

Defining the happiest country

Denmark is a unique place. It’s home to some of the most notable brands in the world, as well as a range of fantastic myths, legends and stories. Famous for its stunning scenery, clean air and beaches, culture and a fantastic quality of life, it’s easy to see why anyone would be happy to live here. 

There are a few things could specifically contribute to making Denmark the happiest country. 

For instance:

It’s a country built on trust

It’s hard not to have the happiest people in the world when everyone in your country trusts each other. Trust is an essential value in Danish culture, perhaps due to the Nordic economic model of the region, where the government, businesses, and people need to trust each other to do what’s best. 

Life is safe in Denmark, with honesty expected from everyone — even big corporations. It’s common to see children travelling alone on transport, and people can go for a walk at any time of day or night. Around 79% of Danes say they trust most of the people they meet on instinct. 

When you don’t have to worry about locking your doors or leaving your baby to sleep when you go and grab a coffee in a café, the level of stress you experience each day drastically reduces. 

The economy works

It’s odd to think the world’s happiest country is also subject to some of the highest income tax. However, the state economy does work. People in Denmark pay a huge amount of tax on their income, and up to 25% value-added tax on most items. 

However, most are more than happy to pay this, because they get a lot of benefits in return.

In Denmark, you don’t have to worry about paying for healthcare, and university students don’t pay any tuition fees. In fact, if you decide to pursue your education, you can get grants to cover the expenses you rack up while studying. 

Childcare is subsidized, and the elderly receive pensions too.

Basically, Denmark believes its investing in its happiness, not just paying taxes. Even if you lose your job, it’s not the end of the world. You get support to retrain for a new career, and there’s unemployment benefits for as long as 2 years.

Denmark even has one of the world’s most generous retirement systems, with state-funded, employer-funded, and private options.

Danes work to live, not live to work

Speaking of employment, a great job isn’t the most important thing in Denmark. Work-life balance isn’t just a buzzword, it’s a genuine opportunity. 

The workers in Denmark put in the second-fewest hours globally, with an average of around 33 hours a week full-time, and fantastic holiday funds. 

In situations like parental leave, the happy Danes also have some of the most generous policies around. The government requires employers to offer up to 52 weeks of leave for the father or mother, with monetary support for as long as 32 weeks. 

Even though more time off is available, Danish people don’t suffer in terms of productivity or earnings. The country still ranks high above other countries like the US, Germany, and Japan for workplace productivity and performance. 

According to experts, Danes simply work hard, get the job home, then go home. 

You’re not expected to spend extra hours at work, and doing so doesn’t show you’re more committed to the job, or indicate you’re more deserving of a promotion or pay rise. You’ll already get paid what you’re worth, so there’s no need to over-exert yourself. 

Why Is Denmark The Happiest Country In The World

Jante’s Law and hygge

Happy Danes follow a different code in life to many of us. For instance, there’s an unwritten rule of Danish culture known as Jante’s law. Basically, the idea is you should never act like you’re smarter, or better than anyone else. 

No-one is better than anyone, and everyone is equal in Denmark. This means you’re less likely to feel envious of others. 

There are fewer outward signs of success or struggle in Denmark because everyone feels like they’re on the same level. There’s also less to worry about when it comes to things like trying new strategies and taking risks. If something doesn’t work out, you’re not going to get into trouble for it. 

On the other hand, we also have the concept of hygge in Denmark. This is a concept which can be hard to translate, but it basically means you take time to enjoy the little things in life. 

During long winters, hygge usually happens indoors, with warm blankets and lots of home comforts. In summer, hygge can happen with friends and family in the great outdoors. 

Learn a little more about hygge here.

Happy Danes are empowered

One of the main things contributing to the happiness of the Danes, is the sense of empowerment the locals have. People feel comfortable living life the way they want to. 

You don’t have to worry about working overtime to show willing, because you’re expected to want to spend every hour away from the office. Danes are also encouraged to get out and try new things, without the fear of failure. 

For anyone who does have issues with mental health or stress, there’s plenty of support here too. Denmark doesn’t put a stigma on issues like stress. You can actually take a break from your job if you’re feeling overwhelmed. The government supports “stress leave”. 

There’s a huge safety net available for anyone in Denmark’s flexicurity labor market model, which allows people and businesses to be more flexible. Employers can fire and hire people easily, and employees can even get insurance to support them if they ever lose their jobs. 

Why Is Denmark The Happiest Country In The World

Is Denmark really the happiest country in the world?

The lists of the world’s happiest countries rolling out each year can differ in their perspective of Denmark from one list to the next. However, although Denmark’s position as the happiest country in the world can fluctuate, the location always seems to stay within the top three. 

While it’s difficult for some to understand the happy Danes, with their high personal taxes and their massive taxes on cars, looking a little deeper reveals some interesting insights. 

While the Danes do pay more in taxes, and can lose their jobs quite easily, they also live in an environment built to support their continued wellbeing. 

Denmark’s economy is designed to give Danish people everything they need to work and learn, with minimal expense and discomfort. Everyone gets the healthcare they need, including for mental health, with support from the State when you need it. 

At the same time, Denmark is one of the few countries in the world which encourages locals to spend less time working, and more time enjoying time with their families. 

In Denmark, you don’t have to work overtime, and most employees simply won’t expect it. Instead, you’re free to enjoy some hygge at home, and take every hour of paid leave you can. 

Of course, there is a flip side to all of this happiness. Being named as one of the happiest countries in the world does put a lot of pressure on the Danes to continue their positive lifestyle.

Some experts wonder whether Danes are under too much pressure to show the rest of the world how to live. 

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