Despite the difficulties associated with quantifying happiness, each year the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) unveils its report on life satisfaction in the developed world... Based on this experience, its 11 topics reflect what the OECD has identified as essential to well-being in terms of material living conditions (housing, income, jobs) and quality of life (community, education, environment, governance, health, life satisfaction, safety and work-life balance).More at the link.
Once again, the United States failed to make the top 10 list of happiest nations in the world, while all the Scandinavian nations did... Denmark tops the OECD ranking with the most satisfied citizens... Yet, in addition to the OECD, organizations such as the World Map of Happiness and the World Database of Happiness have consistently put Denmark at the top of their list of the world’s happiest countries.
When asked why they are happy, Danes usually give two reasons. First, they point out that most of their society is not created for the upper class. Just the opposite, nearly all things are catered to the middle class. Hence, there is a sense of contentment, which is key. There is little of the mentality of ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ or a 1% vs 99% debate...
Second, they mention the great services that the state provides. This comes at a price—extremely high taxes. But it turns out high taxes have another benefit. People tend to decide on an occupation based on what they like and not based on earning potential. Incomes are somewhat comparable across the country so that a garbage collector lives in the same kind of neighborhood as a doctor. As a general rule, prestige is not so important: the garbage collector gets the same kind of respect as the doctor for a job well done. This creates happiness as well.
Denmark has a high employment rate (73%), and a low percentage of employees working long hours (less than 2%). Not surprisingly, having enough leisure time affects a person’s mental health and strongly impacts happiness. The citizens of Denmark have the most leisure time per day of any country in the study, at 16.06 hours (including sleep) —and this is encouraged by government policies...
Danish parents feel their children are safe within their families and in society as a whole (not true for American parents); baby prams are left unattended; bicycles are left unlocked; trust in other people and government is high.
Denmark has national health insurance which provides for all. Family planning, counseling, and pre- and post-pregnancy services are given free. The Danes accept sexuality as a normal part of life, and feel that abortion should be allowed free of charge. They decided that prevention of adolescent pregnancy should have high priority, therefore sex education and responsible parenting classes are part of their school curriculum, starting at an early age. Denmark's conception rates are less than 1/2 of those in the US. Not surprisingly, there are very few unwanted pregnancies, and few babies to be adopted.
16 December 2012
Life in Denmark
Extensive excerpts from an interesting article at Culture Change: