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Happiest in the World

Denmark has once again been ranked as the happiest nation in the world, this time by UN's World Happiness Report 2016 Update.

Children at Flæsketorvet

The first World Happiness Report, commissioned for the UN Conference on Happiness, held in April 2012, drew international attention as a landmark first survey of the state of global happiness. The World Happiness Report 2016 Update goes further. It gives a special role to the measurement and consequences of inequality in the distribution of well-being among countries and regions. In previous reports the editors have argued that happiness provides a better indicator of human welfare than do income, poverty, education, health and good government measured separately. In a parallel way, they now argue that the inequality of well-being provides a broader measure of inequality. They find that people are happier living in societies where there is less inequality of happiness. 

Long 'tradition' of happiness

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. 

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