What is Happiness To the World Second Happiest Country

Reported by Chloe Wong and Rajnandini Pandey 

On Tuesday right before dinner time, the Scottish couple Linda Mclean and her husband were taking a small break on a bench. 

Mclean and her husband travelled from their home country, Edinburgh, planned to spend four days in Copenhagen.

“This place seems to be happier,” Mclean and her husband said. “Danes are more relaxed. People in Scotland are more uptight than Danes i think, (Scots) seem to be cooler.”

Three minutes walk from the Copenhagen Central Station, where Mclean and her husband were, tourist Henrike Hofar took an hour-long tour of the small museum located in Copenhagen central. 

The German girl who’s going through some hardship in her personal life found her peace from the private exhibitions with only eight rooms. 

“Danaes seem to prioritise people over profit,” Hofar said. “And that includes a lot of green places and spaces to connect with each other; all of them combined makes a lot of sense that they are quite happy.”

Found by author Meik Wiking three years ago, the private institution illustrates factors that create happiness among the country.

It is the world’s first museum dedicated to explore why Denmark is known for being one of the happiest countries on the planet.

Researchers and experts have their own methodology to measure “happiness”, but for Hofar, happiness means 

“I think maybe to cherish small moments and to also look out for structures that support daily happiness,” Hofar said. 

Back in late March this year, the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network released the annual World Happiness Report: Finland topped the first, followed by Denmark.

Nordic countries often have high ranks in terms of happiness and equality. This marks the fourth year in a row that Denmark has been listed as the second-happiest country on Earth.

According to the report, experts defined happiness index based on certain factors. For instance, a country’s social equality, community spirit, income, health, freedom, social support are put into measure to determine its well-being.

Infographics – According to the World Happiness Report, Denmark scored 7.586 out of 10 regarding the happiness index. 

The Danes are proud of this title. 

On the Denmark Foreign Affairs website, they explain that the Danish government offers free tuition fees for high quality education, free public health-care services.

The country is also known for its low crime rate and corruption, according to the website.

Photo taken by Rajnandini Pandey – Clara Vo, a local majoring in communication 

“For me what makes me happy here, I have a bottom line safety, I don’t have to worry about if I don’t get a job will I become homeless, or like things will not work out for me,” said Clara Vo, a local communication student at the Danish School of Media and Journalism in Copenhagen.

“I worry less because of the system,” she added.

The local Danish student said the country’s structure and safety play important roles on the country’s well-being.

Danish citizens play as high as 25% of tax, almost equal to half of their incomes. Yet, they are not complaining about it.

Having one of the highest taxation in the world, Danaes receives “returns” – from free university tuition fee with subsidies of living expenses to free access to health care system, the high taxation supports Denmark’s social and welfare structure.

Apart from the system, Vo said the open-minded culture in the country makes her feel included and happy. 

The World Happiness Report stated that the well-beingness of a country has a correlation with its governmental election. 

“Make the youth decide, listen to the youth,” Vo said.

Quoting from Vo, for further improvement of the country’s well-being, she said “to give more back to the people needed, invest in the educational system and the youth”.

Vo said youth should have more say in the country as the largest voting age group is 40-60 years old, owning 30% of the voters; while less than 20% are from citizens 30 or younger. 

“There’s a big percentage of danish voters who are older people, the decision is made by older people, not by the youth who are gonna be part of the decision in the future,” Vo said.


Taxation and Happiness – Danes are not happy with the tax reduction plan 

Reported by Chloe Wong and Rajnandini Pandey 

Photo taken by Rajnandini Pandey – street music performance in Copenhagen Central.

“If you get sick you can easily get helped, and if you like to educate yourself, we have schools and a platform for that,” a local communication student Oscar Vetel from Copenhagen said.

However, some Danes across the country are now protesting regarding the budget and resources distribution of Denmark’s welfare system.

Denmark, which is known for their well-developed social welfare system, is facing citizens’ opposition and critics against the taxation deduction plan. 

On 13 September, three politicians – Mette Frederiksen, Jakob Ellemann-Jensen and Lars Løkke who were holding a debate in Aalborg, the Northern city of Denmark, were “welcomed” by a series of demonstrations.

According to DR1, a local broadcasting news outlet, local Danes oppose the bill as the cut of tax would cause cuts in welfare services. 

The Danish government plans to reduce taxation till 2030. For instance in the Morsø Municipality, this week they have decided to scrap out some elderly care schemes, closing down schools and limiting budgets.  

“Even though everyday people are complaining about the system, it’s a pretty good system compared to other countries,” Vetel commented. 

Happiness versus Depressed – Reality in Denmark behind the Happiness Report 

Reported by Chloe Wong and Rajnandini Pandey 

Photo taken by Chloe Wong – Despite being titled as the second happiest country, Denmark has high consumption on anti depression pills. 

Ranked second on the world’s happiest country, but are Danes performing well on their mental health? 

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Denmark ranked nine on the increased usage of anti depression drugs between 2000 and 2020.

The Local DK stated that “almost one in ten in Denmark prescribed antidepressant medicine in 2021”. 

“It is quite common for people to take these pills to against depression,” said Clara Vo, a local Danes in Copenhagen. 

“Danes are one of the countries who take the most anti-depression pills. We also produced the drug (for depression),” she added. 

“Personally, I discovered my health issue during the pandemic, I think a lot of people have similar situations too,” Joyce Holm who is dealing with mental health issues said. 

Based on the World Happiness Report 2023, the ranking is conducted by surveying a few thousands citizens from each country. 

Holm said the happiness index, which is measured on a national wise scale, sometimes couldn’t reflect reality.

“It’s difficult to measure happiness; there’s a lot going on behind the actual life of us,” she said.