Denmark: where happiness and trust go hand in hand

As yet another study calls Denmark the happiest country on earth, national researchers say that trust plays a key role

September 9th, 2013 7:56 pm| by admin

Once again Denmark has been dubbed the happiest country by an international study. This time, it was Columbia University's Earth Institute that gave Denmark the honours. In its World Happiness Report 2013, the institute ranked Denmark as the happiest nation on earth, narrowly beating out Norway.


But just why does Denmark land so consistently at the top of these rankings? Research carried out at the Institut for Lykkeforskning – yes, Denmark has a think-tank dedicated to happiness research – looked to get to the bottom of our perceived happiness.  


READ MORE: Danes are the world's happiest … seriously


It is a happy country

The study, entitled 'Det er et lykkeligt land' (It is a happy country), explains why Denmark rates so high in international measurements of happiness.


Released over the weekend, the report pointed to a strong civil society and democracy, a high degree of security, freedom, prosperity, good working conditions, and trust as being among the top reasons why Denmark ranks so high in international measurements of happiness.


"We have an extremely high standard of trust in Denmark," Christian Bjørnskov, a professor of national economics at Aarhus University, states in the report. "It is one of the most significant explanations behind our high levels of happiness."


READ MORE: Staying 'happy' during the dark, depressing winter


First comprehensive look

Comprised of interviews carried out by leading happiness researchers, a comprehensive analysis of reports from the UN, the OECD, and universities around the world, and a massive Danica Pensions database consisting of approximately 10,000 Danes' responses to questions related to happiness, the study looks into how happiness is measured and why Danes consistently rank on top. 


"As far as we know, this is the first report in the world that attempts to give a comprehensive view of why Danes are so often deemed to be the world's happiest people," Meik Wiking, the head of Institut for Lykkeforskning, told Berlingske Nyhedsbureau. 


While the report points to Denmark's welfare model as a key source of happiness, it is in the area of trust that Danes stand out from the pack.


"There is particularly one thing that always baffles tourists when they visit Denmark: that Danish parents feel secure in leaving their children outside in a carriage," the report reads. "While mum and dad enjoy a cup of coffee inside, little Max is allowed to sleep outside the cafe in his carriage. Three out of four Danes believe that they can trust a majority of people. That is a world record. Globally, just one out of four people believe they can trust in others."


To see the latest feather in Denmark's happy hat, you can read the Earth Institute's report here. The Institut for Lykkeforskning report can be found here (in Danish)

(all photos: Daniela de Lorenzo)
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