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Is Denmark the happiest country in the world? |
Is Denmark the happiest country in the world? | | © Priscilla Du Preez / Unsplash
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Do Expats Agree Denmark is the Happiest Place in the World?

Picture of Aliki Seferou
Updated: 9 January 2018
It is known that Denmark has topped the global happiness rankings more than once and has become known as the World’s Happiest Country. But does everyone agree that it deserves this title? We asked five foreigners living in Denmark to share their point of view—and they differ quite a bit.

Vassilis Psychas

What do you think of the fact that, according to the World Happiness Report, Denmark is the happiest country in the world?

I guess this “happiness factor” is a combination of a wealthy economy and a social state that supports its people. And I guess Denmark does that quite alright, but that doesn’t mean that it actually makes everybody happy, or that it makes the world a better place.

As an expat in Denmark, would you say you’re one of the world’s happiest people?

No, I don’t think I am. I have most of my problems solved, as I would have in most European countries, but that doesn’t make me any happier than it would anywhere else.

Do Danes seem more positive than people from your home country?

Yes, they are more positive because of two reasons. First, because the Danish economy hasn’t been strongly touched by the European economic crisis yet, as the south and Greece has. And, secondly, because most [Danish] citizens, in my opinion, are not properly informed and don’t really care about the social and economic changes that happen across the world. Hence they live in a bubble—the same bubble most of the southern countries used to live in before the crisis.

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Courtesy of Vassilis Psychas | Courtesy of Vasilis Psychas | © Alexandros Kompotis

Zsófia Cserháti

What do you think of the fact that, according to the World Happiness Report, Denmark is the happiest country in the world?

I don’t think they are the happiest. First of all I don’t think we can measure happiness, and our concept of it is not positive (“happiness” as a goal in life that one reaches and then is happy all day). For me, it means being content and feeling relaxed, being balanced. I think Danes are more relaxed and find joy in different activities. They know how to switch off (from work) and find time to meet with their friends and family, to enjoy a dinner together.

Do Danes seem more positive than people from your home country?

Yes, they do. I’m from Hungary, and I feel that in Budapest most people are stressed, angry and always in a hurry. One of the differences is that Danes know how to make time for themselves. Maybe they can keep a better balance between work and free time. Another is that they are more active in their free time, and more active in political discourse. Also Danes like to come together for dinners, cake and coffee.

Where is your “happy place” in Denmark?

My happy place is being with friends. That can be at home, at a bar, or café.

Eva Kloudova

What do you think of the fact that, according to the World Happiness Report, Denmark is the happiest country in the world?

I think it depends on the questions they were asked. Danes definitely have a good social system, which makes them feel secure, so they don’t have to worry if they “survive.” They have free education, a good work-life balance, high salaries. So if those were the questions the survey was based on, then I’m not surprised they are the happiest country in the world.

As an expat in Denmark, would you say you’re one of the world’s happiest people?

I definitely feel privileged for being able to study in Denmark. Although, as in any country, most expats have it harder than locals so I don’t have that “security” Danes have but, nevertheless, I feel pretty lucky and more or less happy.

Do Danes seem more positive than people from your home country?

They seem to me pretty similar to the Czech (which is where I’m from). Danes are closed when they don’t know you, but once they get to know you they are quite friendly, which is the same case for Czech people.

Where is your “happy place” in Denmark?

My happy place is wherever I go with my friends and have fun. Most often in the bar where I work, because I know people there, they know me, and it feels like home.

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Eva Kloudova | Courtesy of Eva

Kleanthis Chasapis

What do you think of the fact that, according to the World Happiness Report, Denmark is the happiest country in the world?

It seems like a plausible assessment. Despite the gloomy weather, which dominates the calendar year, people seem to be content with their lives: there is a welfare security net for the less well-off, there are a lot of open, public spaces, the redistribution of wealth through taxes seems to be working and, all in all, the country feels like it has been designed to accommodate humans. Most importantly, it is a wealthy country, which means it can afford to care about the well-being of its citizens.

Do Danes seem more positive than people from your home country?

Yes, definitely so. My country, Greece, collapsed within the last decade, whereas the lifestyle of the Danes has barely budged ever since I moved to Denmark.

Where is your “happy place” in Denmark?

Any place where I can meet and talk with friends. In the summer months it would be the Dronning Louises bridge, while in the winter months it would be some uncrowded bar with nice music.

Gilberto Colangelo

What do you think of the fact that, according to the World Happiness Report, Denmark is the happiest country in the world?

I know that the report took into consideration six main factors (income, healthy life expectancy, having someone to count on in times of trouble, generosity, freedom and trust). If factors like the consumption rate of anti-depressive medicines or suicide rates were taken into consideration, then I wouldn’t bet on Denmark as the world’s happiest country.

As an expat in Denmark, would you say you’re one of the world’s happiest people?

I am Italian and I have been working with Danes for over two years as a waiter, and it actually looks like they are the happiest people—even if it seems to me that the level of happiness is related too much to the individual’s economic situation.

Do Danes seem more positive than people from your home country?

Compared to the Italians they are for sure more positive. Anyone can understand this simply by walking down the street of any random city in Denmark (almost every Dane smiles at you) and any random city in Italy (almost nobody smiles at you).

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Gilberto Colangelo | Gilberto Colangelo | Courtesy of Gilberto Colangelo