Again this year, Denmark has been ranked among the top three happiest countriest in the world, according to the United Nation's World Happiness Report. Different aspects are involved when studies are carried out measuring the extent of happiness. The study takes a variety of factors into account, including people's health and access to healthcare, family relations and job security as well as social factors like political freedom and government corruption. What makes Denmark one of the happiest places in the world?
In Denmark a normal working week is 37 hours and Danish employees benefit from 5 weeks of holiday a year. This means that leisure time is a huge part of the Danish culture, which is optimised in a great number of ways, let it be social gatherings, sports, taking a course, or joining the local book or theatre club. Leaving work on time, bicycling home or jumping on effective public transport, picking up your children from day nursery and having a cosy family dinner is happiness for most families in Denmark.
Leisure time is easily spent together with others involving the Danish term "hygge" a word for cosy social gatherings and intimate get-togethers with family and friends. ‘Hygge’ during winter could involve that cuddly feeling in front of a fireplace after a day at the Christmas market on a cold showy day. During spring and summer, actually whenever the sun is out, "hygge" involves gatherings in parks, by the beach, or in sidewalk cafés. Hygge is something Danes strive for, at all times, no questions asked, in quaint little pubs and cafés or during softly lit dinners with family and friends.
Denmark is considered to be one of the most egalitarian societies in the world, where both men and women have careers. Taxes are high in Denmark, which makes up for a governmental healthcare system where everybody has free access to hospitals and surgery. Schools and universities are free and under- and graduate students get monthly student grants. Unemployment benefits and schemes to help you find a job are generous. And government spending on children and the elderly is higher per capita than in any other country in the world. It is highly considered that the welfare system in Denmark provides a sense of security that makes people feel at ease and confident that if they get unemployed or ill, the system will support you and help you back on your feet.
Trust is another key factor in the Dane’s prescription of happiness. Trusting the government, trusting the work place, the kindergarten and schools who takes care of your children, trusting you are safe, with low crime and government corruption, a respected police force and friendly neighbours. Mothers leave their babies unattended in strollers outside cafés and people might leave their doors unlocked in the countryside. And perhaps the Danes beloved bicycle is actually the best symbol of the Danish happiness, needless to say that the very idea of a bike gives you freedom to go anywhere. Many Danes, those who can afford to buy a car, choose the bike – simple, economical, non-polluting machines that keep you fit.