What makes Denmark the happiest country in the world?

By: Johannes, 5/9/2019

According to 2016’s statistics, Denmark is the happiest country in the world and there are probably many reasons for that. It could be the country’s strong history with great author, poets and philosophers. It could be the unique weather only appearing in Denmark, or it could be something completley else. To get a better understanding of Denmark and its happiness, the following cultural and political factors might be a part the explanation:

Strong economy:

“Money can buy material things, but real happiness must be truly earned” are words spoken by Jean-Jacques Rousseau in 1750. But one thing that Rousseau did not mention is the fact that money definitely makes the way to happiness shorter. The strong Danish economy is one of the main reasons why Denmark is considered one of the happiest countries, the world has ever seen. According to analysts, Denmark has the 39th largest economy in the world and the country’s GDP is slightly less than 300 billion dollars on a yearly basis. The numbers are very impressive considering Denmark’s population is less than 6 millions and it gives Denmark a spot among the 20 best countries when it comes to GDP pr. Capita. It makes the citizens in charge of a big purchasing power that helps the entire economy to run smoothly. It lowers the number of unemployment and it gives the individual citizen the ability to not worry about their own personal economic situation, which might be a reason why Danes are in a situation where they have the energy to enjoy what life is really about.

Nordic social model:

In the early 1960’s, Danish politicians started what we today know as the Danish welfare state. It is a system consisting of high taxes and a large number of public services, and it is widely recognized to be among the top reasons why Denmark is one of the happiest countries. The average Dane pays 45% in income tax while some individuals under special circumstances pay up to 60% in income tax. Many people around the world will probably ask themselves why Denmark as a whole is satisfied with their tax rate but statistics show that 90% of all Danes happily pay their taxes. The answer to the satisfaction is simple: it is an investment in the Danish people’s future and safety. The hospitals in Denmark are among the best in the world and everyone has access to them in case of an emergency. Furthermore, universities are totally free to attend and students get paid an amount of roughly 1000 dollars every month while they are studying. These are just a few of the best examples of what Danes receive from the public sector and the result from that is less inequality between the over class and middle class which definitely increases the happiness for the general Dane.


What impact does architecture have on us as human beings? The biological answer is that the brain releases endorphins when we look on something we like. But scientists also suggest, that it creates a deeper connection between people sharing the same architecture. Denmark has a proud history of great architects who have impacted Denmark and the rest of the world alike. Most Danish cities are dominated by Renaissance architecture, where buildings like Borsen, Rosenborg Castle and Frederiksborg Palace are great examples of that. This old style mixed with modern buildings from Bjarke Ingels (best known for designing Two World Trade Center) and Jorn Utzon (designer of the Opera House of Sydney) makes cities like Aarhus and Copenhagen really beautiful and enjoyable for even the hardest critic. But architecture is not just about a nice look. It gives the Danish population something to gather around and is an essential part of understanding what being Dane is all about. It is a fundamental pillar for people to stay happy and many Danes definitely take advantage of that.


“Hygge” is described as “A Danish word used when acknowledging a feeling or moment, whether alone or with friends, at home or out, ordinary or extraordinary as cozy, charming or special”. For Danes it is not just a foreign word or an indescribable feeling but a part of their DNA. It is a cornerstone of the Danish culture and it has been around in the country for 1000’s of years since it comes from the Old Nordic language (hyggja), originally meaning “to think”. In American popular culture, “hygge” is always connected to a cozy cabin with a small fireplace and pot full of hot cocoa, but for Danes the word means way more. The entire society is more or less build around “hygge” and everywhere you go you see small coffee houses with only one purpose: to provide Danes with a “hygge”-chat over a cup of “hygge”-coffee. In general, Danes seek their “hygge”-moments as often as possible and in many cases it is all about the small everyday moments that results in “hygge”. It gives the ability to enjoy a stressed out everyday life and is for sure a contributory factor to the happiness of Denmark.

Low crime rates:

The fact that your family and best friends are safe and sound is an important part of your happiness. In Denmark, safety is not really a daily life issue since reports consistently show that Denmark is a top 5 country when it comes to safest countries on earth. It means that the Danish people do not have to fear criminals when they leave their houses and therefore it is easier to enjoy life. Furthermore, Denmark is considered the least corrupt country in the world, which is super important as well. It is the main reason why the Danes are more willing to trust their politicians, which helps the society to be a place where people in general trust each other. It lowers the amount of inequality, which definetly benefits the average person and the overall happiness.

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