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The recipe of Danish happiness revealed

For four decades Denmark has consistently been named the world’s happiest country. Finally, the reasons for the high levels of happiness in Denmark are explained in a comprehensive report published by The Happiness Research Institute.

The most recent World Happiness Report from 2013, published by Columbia University’s Earth Institute for the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network, named the Danes as the happiest people in the world.

But what is the secret behind the high level of happiness in Denmark? A comprehensive report based on literature within happiness research from the past 10 years, and a series of extensive interviews with leading Danish and international happiness researchers, unveils the recipe of happiness.

The report is published by the Copenhagen-based think tank, The Happiness Research Institute, and is entitled “The Happy Danes – Exploring the reasons behind the high levels of happiness in Denmark”. It explains how a strong civil society, a good work-life balance, and a high level of social security are sources of happiness. The report points out eight main reasons for Danish happiness:

Trust Three out of four Danes believe that they can trust most people. Not just people they know, but also people they don’t know – and that contributes to making life easier and happier. In global terms, only one out of four people believe they can trust most other people.

Security  Denmark is a safe country, not just because it is relatively safe to walk the streets at night, but also because the Danish welfare state has reduced the uncertainty associated with illness, age, and unemployment by a significant amount. This social security means that Danes can live a less anxious life and thus be happier day-to-day.

Wealth According to research, it is clear that wealth does have an impact on happiness. Money is no guarantee for happiness, but a lack of money can easily lead to unhappiness.

Civil Society There is broad agreement among happiness researchers that social relations are essential for people’s happiness. Closeness to family and friends, good neighbourly relations, and being part of other networks all contribute to happiness.

Freedom  According to the World Happiness Report, happiness is a result of “the ability of people to shape their own lives, and this requires a solid level of freedom.” The Danes’ freedom is enshrined in their Constitution. Personal liberty is inviolable, but unfortunately this right is far from universal elsewhere in the world.

Work-life balance The Danes have time for family and leisure alongside their careers, and they enjoy a large degree of flexibility in the workplace. The ability to balance work and family life is essential for happiness.

The report also draws attention to several interesting socio-economic benefits of the population’s happiness level. According to the report, happiness has a positive effect on health for individuals and happy employees are more productive thus, happy workers are healthier, have fewer sick days and so reduce public health expenditure as a whole. One reason why more and more businesses actively seek to increase happiness levels among their employees.

Read the report "The Happy Danes - Exploring the reasons behind the high levels of happiness in Denmark".