Denmark took the top spot In the United Nation’s World Happiness Report in 2013, 2014 and 2016, and came third in 2015. What is their secret?
Is it really true that the Danes are some of the happiest people in the world?
Well, the weather can be a bit tedious at times especially during the winter when it’s dark for most of the day and very windy. Despite this, Danish people are still considered to be some of the happiest.
Copenhagen: the happiest city in the world?
Let’s take a look at Denmark’s capital city and what makes it such a nice place to live. Straight off the bat, there are many reasons. One of those reasons is that it is full of “hygge” destinations (Hygge is a Danish concept which roughly translates to that warm and fuzzy feeling when you’re surrounded by good food, good drink and good company) — from restaurants selling pickled herring in the New Harbour to the iconic Tivoli Gardens, which is transformed every Christmas into a spectacular festival of light. The city is one of the leaders when it comes to the implementation of smart technology, adding value to the lives of citizens and making it a healthier place to live. Bike culture in Copenhagen is a big thing – with a large % of the population cycling to and from work or school. This has a very positive impact on the environment and the general healthiness of citizens.
Danish work-life balance
An ordinary work week is 37 hours with a minimum of 5 weeks holiday per annum, employment conditions are very strong and with a stable economy this has created a happy workforce across the country. Leisure time is a huge part of the Danish culture, which is optimised in a number of ways, whether it be social gatherings, sports, taking a course, or joining the local book or theatre club. Leaving work on time, cycling home or jumping on the inexpensive public transport, picking up your children from daycare and having a cozy family dinner is happiness for most families in Denmark. They have a focus on the simple, but important things in life which create a healthy work-life balance.
The welfare model
As with all of the Nordic countries the welfare system is extremely strong in Denmark and reinforces the nation’s well being. The welfare system encourages families to grow by providing employees with very generous parental leave when a child is born, they also support parents when they are returning to work but subsidising the daycare system so that it is affordable for everyone. Having lived in London for 10 years (with children) I can tell you this is something that the Nordic countries do better than anyone in the world!
The taxes in Denmark are high in comparison to a lot of other countries, but the support that citizens receive from the welfare system more than balances out for the additional payments made in taxes. No balance is perfect, but it is thought that this social system adds a lot to the overall happiness of the citizens in all parts of the country.
All in all there are a number of factors that contribute to Denmark leading the way in terms of happiness and not all of these factors would work everywhere for cultural reasons, but I think that everyone can learn something from the Danes!