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 the 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?
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.
‘Hygge’ for the winter blues
The Danes even have a cure for those dark, Scandinavian winters. It’s called hygge, a blanket term for the cosy settings Danes are so keen on creating during the long winter. During the Christmas season, for example, streets are awash in twinkling lights and the world-famous Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen are transformed into a winter wonderland.
Happiness is of course a deeply personal matter, so there’s no guarantee happiness will wash over one’s next vacation in Denmark. But take time to relax in some of Denmark’s gorgeous, pristine beaches or explore its laid-back cities and towns. You might find yourself at home in the world’s happiest country.
When people talk about the Danish labor market they often use the term “flexicurity” to describe the model that is successfully managing the challenges of globalization and securing steady economic growth and employment.
Studies show that Danes are positive about globalization and do not fear losing their jobs. Rather they seek opportunities for new and better jobs. This is partly ascribed to the flexicurity model which promotes adaptability of employees and enterprises.
Flexicurity is a compound of flexibility and security. The Danish model has a third element—active labor market policy—and together these elements comprise the golden triangle of flexicurity.
Education for all
High quality education at all levels is essential to ensure competitiveness in today’s globalized world. This is why education is a key priority in Denmark. With their high academic standards combined with innovative learning approaches, the Danish institutions are preparing their students to play an active role in a globalized, knowledge-based society.
In Denmark, basic education is compulsory. The general upper secondary school primarily prepares the young people for higher education, while vocational education and training primarily aims to prepare students for a career in trade or industry. In Denmark more than 50 percent of a year group enter higher education.
Danish higher education has a long tradition of combining academic excellence with innovative research and teaching. High academic standards, interdisciplinary studies and project-based activities ensure active and motivating learning environments.
Most Danish higher education institutions benefit from their cooperation with business, industry and research institutes, creating an enriching and vibrant learning environment for their students. Danish higher education institutions offer a range of opportunities for international students. The institutions are highly international and offer a large number of programs taught in English.
A recent survey with responses from more than 3,500 international students studying in Denmark showed that 78 percent of the students would recommend Denmark as a study destination and 93 percent consider Denmark to be a safe country to live in.
For more information about Denmark, please visit the official website http://denmark.dk/en