The Happiest Country in the World?

If countries were measured on shared development assistance and not in kilometers; one small country of only 43,000 square kilometres (26,700 sq. miles) would be more globally appreciated.  This one country in particular is one in only five to live up to the UN target of granting 0.7 per cent GNI to development assistance.It is usually recognized for its social balance, equality, universal welfare, high minimum wages, low levels of corruption and transparency.  

Denmark

Copenhagen, Denmark Photographer – Jim Nix
Copenhagen, Denmark
Photographer – Jim Nix
Name: Kongeriget Danmark - The Kingdom of Denmark
Form of government: Constitutional monarchy w/ parliamentary democracy. Since October 2011, the government has consisted  of the Social Democratic Party, the Social Liberal Party and the Socialist People’s Party.
Population: 5.6m inhabitants
Population density: Approx. 130 inhabitants per sq. km
Average life expectancy: Men 77.3 years, women 81.6 years
Capital: København (Copenhagen), 1.213.822 inhabitants in the metro- politan area
Major cities: Aarhus 319.094, Odense 168.798, Aalborg 126.556 
Language: The official language is Danish. English is widely spoken. Religion: 80 % belong to the National     Lutheran Church
Currency: Danish krone (DKK)
GDP per capita: 278.000 DKK / 36.646 EUR
Climate: Denmark has a mild and temperate climate. It rains or snows every second day (during the wintertime it snows seven days a month).
National flag: The National flag of Denmark, Dannebrog is red with a white cross that extends to the edges of the flag.  Dannebrog is the oldest flag in the world still in use by an independent nation. According to the le-gend, Dannebrog was gift from God and fell from the sky during a battle in Estonia securing Danish victory.
Danes are dedicated to creating a green and sustainable society, and work towards that goal every day.  More than 20% of Denmark’s energy already comes from renewable energy; their goal is to reach 100% by 2050.  The people of Denmark contribute to societal wealth and minimize their carbon footprint everyday simply by the way they travel; by bicycle.
Yakkay Helmet Wear
Yakkay Helmet Wear

More than 50% of Danes ride their bike to work, school, and events; no matter the weather.  Copenhagen is officially the first “Bike City” in the world, and was voted “Best City for Cyclists” last year. 390+ kilometers of this beautiful city are dedicated solely to bike lanes.  Copenhageners have been biking to work since 1880, throughout World War 1 and 2, intermittently when the automobile rose in popularity, right up to present day.  The booming bike culture has inspired companies like Yakkay to invent stylish bike wear, that are not only safe, but fashionable too.  Yakkay has already won several design and innovation awards including a Eurobike Award in 2009.

Bicycling is fashionable and eco-friendly; but it also is constantly contributing to the country’s wealth.  Researchers have discovered that for every kilometer traveled by bike (instead of by car), taxpayers of Copenhagen save 7.8 cents (DKK 0.45) in avoided air pollution, accidents, congestion, noise and wear and tear on infrastructure. So, by 50% or so of the population riding their bikes to work and school, they are saving the city a little over $34 million each year.

Not only does cycling promote a healthy body by reducing the risk of serious conditions such as heart disease, some forms of cancer, high blood pressure, obesity and the most common form of diabetes, it also boosts social community between the people of Copenhagen.  In addition, cycling is estimated to add an average of 1-2 years to human life expectancy.

Danish citizens receive health care as a civil right and a source of social support.  According to a 2012 survey of family medicine in the country, not only do they understand how to effectively use their health care system, but they also visit their primary physician on average 7 times per year.

“This gatekeeping system essentially is designed to support the principle that treatment ought to take place at the lowest effective care level along with the idea of continuity of care provided by a family doctor,” wrote the authors of the family medicine survey.

Photo Credit: Alamy
Photo Credit: Alamy

Also, working mothers receive a total of 52 weeks in maternal leave, (which is extensive in contrast to the American 10.5 weeks) and father’s receive up to two weeks paid leave. With access to free or low-cost health care and early childhood education for their children, 79% of Denmark mothers return to their previous employment whereas only 59% of American women return to the workforce after maternal leave.  This societal support of parenthood results in 34-38% in Danish households being contributed by women with children.

Even with wonderful benefits for procreation, Denmark’s birth rate is 185th in the world. In 2011, 4,400 fewer Danish children were born than in 2010. For the first three months of 2012, the number declined even further with this year due to be the lowest birth rate in the country since 1988.

“The top countries generally rank higher in all six of the key factors identified in the World Happiness Report,” wrote University of British Columbia economics professor John Helliwell, one of the report’s contributing authors. “Together, these six factors explain three quarters of differences in life evaluations across hundreds of countries and over the years.”

These factors for happiness include: real GDP per capita, healthy life expectancy, having someone to count on, perceived freedom to make life choices, freedom from corruption, and generosity.  Denmark was ranked #1 in all categories, Norway came in 2nd, and Switzerland, Netherlands and Sweden placed 3rd, 4th, and 5th.

So why is Denmark the happiest city in the world? Well, it’s because they put trust and have faith in their government (+ 80% of Danes vote), contribute to society, are eco-friendly, have strong social ties in their community, have a healthy lifestyle and have high economic prosperity.

Author: Rebekah A. Dobbs

Sources:

The Telegraph Magazine

The Huff Post

The Official Website of Denmark

Kerry Trueman: Looking for the American Dream

World Happiness Report 2013

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. Robin says:

    Good article Rebekah 🙂 Copenhagen sounds pretty nice!

  2. Gator Woman says:

    What a wonderful place to live~

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