Denmark has once again been ranked as the happiest nation in the world. This time in the first ever World Happiness Report, commissioned for the UN Conference on Happiness, held in April 2012.
The 158 page report, published by the Earth Institute and co-edited by its director, Jeff rey Sachs, found that the happiest countries are all in Northern Europe – Denmark, Finland, Norway and the Netherlands – with an average life evaluation score of 7.6 on a 0 -10 scale. At the other end of the spectrum, the African nations Togo, Benin, Central African Republic and Sierra Leone, had an average life evaluation score of 3.4. The life evaluation score takes a range of factors into account including political freedom, government corruption, health, and family and job security. According to the findings in the report, it is not just wealth that makes people happy.
“Political freedom, strong social networks and an absence of corruption are together more important than income in explaining well-being diff erences between the top and bottom countries. At the individual level, good mental and physical health, someone to count on, job security and stable families are crucial,” the report stated.
This is not the first time the Danes have been awarded this prestigious title. Back in 1973, the European Commission decided to set up a ‘Eurobarometer’ to find out about issues affecting its citizens. Since then member states have been surveyed about well-being and happiness. Amazingly Denmark has topped the table every year since 1973.
Professor of Economics Christian Bjørnskov from Aarhus Business School knows all about happiness, he even wrote his PhD on the subject. “The happiness surveys normally ask people to evaluate their lives. Research show what makes the Danes so happy is that they are very trusting of other people they don’t know. Trust helps make people happy. Also just as importantly, Danes feel empowered to be able to change something in their life if they don’t like it,” he says.
“The great thing about Danish society is that it doesn’t judge other people’s lives. It allows them to choose the kind of life they want to live, which is sometimes not always possible in other countries, so this helps add to the overall satisfaction of people living here,” he adds.
It also seems the Danes attitude to money is refreshing different from other countries. “Money is not as important in the social life here, as for example Britain and America. We probably spend our money differently here. We don’t buy big houses or big cars, we like to spend our money on socialising with others,” concludes the Professor.