Not all Danes are so happy after all

Despite topping the polls repeatedly for being the happiest people in the world, something may be rotten in the state of Denmark

A newly-published study ‘In the shadow of happiness’ carried out by the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen reveals that although Denmark is still high in the polls when it comes to having happy people, there are also a significant minority who are not thriving.

The study focused on the segment of the Danish population that does not feel that their life is so good, and amongst them are a lot of young people – especially young women, TV2 Nyheder reports.

Over the last three years, Denmark has gone from first to third place on the ‘happiness barometer’.

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Last year, the top 10 countries were Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Finland, the Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Sweden.

In 2018, the order changed to Finland, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden and Australia.

A new narrative needed
“There are a significant number of narratives that do not chime with happiness, but they can be difficult to relate to in the same breath as talking about the happiest country in the Nordics,” said Michael Birkjær, an analyst at the institute.

But it is not all totally bad news. On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, the figures for the Nordics revealed that only 8.1 percent of people in Denmark rated their life as 6 or under, which was well ahead of Sweden (14.9), Norway (13.2), Iceland (12.6) and Finland (11.5).

“I still think we ought to tell people that our society is conducive to good lives. It is only a problem if we confine ourselves to that story, because then it can be even more difficult for those who don’t feel so good,” Birkjær added.

Social media concerns
The figures don’t pinpoint how many are at the lower end of the scale. Birkjær thinks it is worthwhile examining the stress culture that occupies a lot of space in the public debate.

Earlier this year, there was a lot of discussion about young girls and their use of social media. An analysis from the Education Ministry showed that social media use was so widespread amongst the age group that many found it stressful.

As well as that, the problem of loneliness is also on the increase, with every tenth young person admitting to feeling lonely. In a previous survey carried out by Den Nationale Sundhedsprofil, elderly people were found to be the most lonely in Denmark.