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Why Denmark is Home to the Happiest People in the World

Picture of Aliki Seferou
Updated: 25 July 2017
Even though Denmark ranked second in this year’s World Happiness Report, with Norway taking its place, it has been crowned as the world’s happiest country already three times in the past. Well, being second among more than 150 countries isn’t bad at all and here is why.

Many people often wonder how happiness can be measured and how it’s possible that a country with almost five months of darkness and an increase in antidepressants can be considered home to the happiest people in the world. Well, we can’t talk on behalf of 5.5 million Danes but the residents of the small Scandinavian country enjoy some benefits and rights throughout their whole life that most people around the world can’t even begin to imagine. Government corruption, political freedom, physical and mental health, job security and family life can be measured and based on these factors, Denmark held first place among 156 countries in the 2012 ranking of countries for the UN Conference on Happiness.

Let’s assume that you can study in college for free and while being enrolled to university you’re entitled to monthly grants of approximately $900. Then when after graduation you get a job, most likely related to your studies, you can get five to six weeks of paid vacation time a year, plus the public holidays. Finally, if you happen to lose your job you have two years to find a new one while receiving 90% of your salary. Sounds like a sci-fi scenario? Not to Danes.

It’s not without reason that Denmark’s residents see their government as their ‘second parents’. It’s always there to financially support them and that’s the reason that you’ll never hear a Dane complaining for paying 53.5% in taxes. They get it back in the form of social services including health care, retirement and education. From pre-school to college, education is for free and even if they have to pay, it will only be one-quarter of the cost of the provided services.

Parents of every socio-economic class receive $630 per week for a year while they’re on parental leave and an amount of money until their children turns 17. Then the children themselves receive grants and benefits until they’re old enough to get a pension that will cover two-thirds of their pre-retirement income. With all these aspects in mind we guess it no longer sounds so weird that Denmark is considered the second happiest country in the world.