Denmark: The Happiest Country in the World

According to a study published by the Sustainable Solutions Development Network, the happiest countries in the world are all in Northern Europe with Denmark being at the top of the list. The findings were based on lifestyle and wellbeing measures and used analysis from experts in various fields including economics and psychology. This study was conducted to make a case for why well-being should be considered a measure of national development. According to the authors of the study, the well being of individuals is not just beneficial for corporate bottom-lines and their own mental and physical health but may contribute to the progress and development of entire communities and consequently nations. You can read the complete report here.

http://unsdsn.org/files/2013/09/WorldHappinessReport2013_online.pdf

Respondents to this survey recognized the difference between happiness as an emotion and happiness as in life satisfaction. The six happiness metrics used were:

  • real GDP per capita
  • years of healthy life expectancy
  • having someone to count on/social support
  • perceptions of corruption
  • freedom to make life choices
  • prevalence of generosity

The report provides guidance for policymakers on including well-being in national decision-making. Out of a 156 countries surveyed, the U.S. came in at 17th, just below Mexico.  People who are emotionally happier have satisfying lives, make happier communities and are more likely to be healthy, productive and socially connected. This report encourages nations to consider progress and development beyond just GDP and put people at the center. It provides evidence that the systemic measurement and analysis of happiness can teach us about ways to improve the world’s wellbeing, placing it at the heart of policy and have countries develop sustainably allowing everyone to flourish. Individuals with high subjective wellbeing are more likely to practice good health and behaviors such as consuming less and saving more. Positive feelings are associated with curiosity and creativity. Happiness is not a complete absence of negative feelings but the happy person doesn’t feel chronic negative feelings, he or or she experiences negative feelings only occasionally and in appropriate situations.

Europemap-2010

Danes have the lowest level of income inequality, high minimum wages ($20), free taxpayer funded healthcare (Denmark has some of the highest taxes in the world – about 50% income tax and high taxes on everything they purchase), 37 hours a week workweek, 5-6 weeks of vacation and two weeks of holidays. College education is free, and the they have access to subsidized childcare and elder care. Plus, it’s a peaceful country with hardly any crime and violence. Denmark, anyone?

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