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Would you be happier living in Denmark?

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Would you be happier living in Denmark?

Post by Ivan on Sun Nov 30, 2014 9:37 pm

Denmark is often named ‘the world’s happiest country’, most recently in 2013 in the World Happiness Report commissioned by the United Nations. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll stick to long-term trends and ignore the 2014 survey which said that the people of Panama are now the happiest in the world, with Costa Ricans second and the Danes third (Britain came 76th out of the 135 countries surveyed).

Most Danes are well aware that Denmark was not first in line when sunshine was handed out, that the Danes have a high consumption of anti-depressants, and that sitting in traffic on a wet February morning they hardly look like the world’s happiest people. So why are there high levels of happiness in Denmark? The reasons are explained in a comprehensive report published by The Happiness Research Institute, which is a Copenhagen based think-tank:-

- Denmark has one of the smallest wealth gaps in the world. When Danes leave home in the morning, they don’t see many people who are markedly better off than themselves – and this breeds a sense of social solidarity, and by extension, contentedness.

- Denmark has a well-developed democracy with a high level of political participation, good governance (and Neil Kinnock’s daughter-in-law as PM) and a low level of corruption.

- A strong civil society ensures high quality social relationships among the citizens, which is a major determinant for happiness.

- Work in Denmark is characterised by autonomy and flexibility, and allows for time with family and friends through a good work-life balance; for the majority of Danes, the working week is no more than 33 hours.

- Danes are wealthier than most people in the world. Money doesn’t necessarily guarantee happiness, but poverty certainly doesn’t. (Spike Milligan once said that money "makes the misery more bearable".)

- The high level of social security, including state-subsidised childcare, reduces concerns and anxiety for the Danes.

- Danes enjoy a high level of freedom through free university education and gay rights.

- Danish people trust each other more than most nationalities. Apparently, many Danes are happy to leave their babies in buggies outside shops and cafés while running errands.

Britain is a wealthier country than Denmark, but its population is far less contented. According to the survey, that’s primarily because lots of people in Britain don’t like their jobs. I would suggest that it’s also because we don’t have a strong sense of society any more, partly because of the decimation of the old working class industrial communities, and partly because we were indoctrinated by a certain woman thirty years ago with the notion that there is no such thing as society, only individuals.

This survey begs the question – what’s the point of a country like Britain becoming wealthier if it doesn’t make its people happy? As US Senator Robert Kennedy said back in the 1960s: ”The gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages; the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials...it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.”

Sources:-

http://www.happinessresearchinstitute.com/danish-happiness-explained/4578972751

http://www.theguardian.com/world/shortcuts/2014/sep/17/worlds-happiest-country-panama-overtake-denmark
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Re: Would you be happier living in Denmark?

Post by oftenwrong on Sun Nov 30, 2014 10:41 pm

There is a high-tax regime to support "The high level of social security, including state-subsidised childcare, reduces concerns and anxiety for the Danes."


(No such thing as a free lunch.)
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Re: Would you be happier living in Denmark?

Post by Ivan on Mon Dec 01, 2014 9:35 pm

Yes, taxes are high in Denmark. There is a state income tax and a local income tax (the latter being a fairer system than our council tax, as it is more closely related to one's ability to pay). Denmark also has a land value tax. On the downside VAT is 25%, the highest standard rate permissible in the EU. However, the point is that even though the Danes pay all these taxes, they get a lot in return and they are consistently classified as some of the happiest people in the world.
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Re: Would you be happier living in Denmark?

Post by stuart torr on Wed Dec 03, 2014 7:05 pm

Ivan there certainly has got to be a lot of places happier than Britain at this particular time, as we are now suffering a tory government that must come a close second to the cow that ruined the trust and togetherness that we had before she came to power.
Since her Britain has slowly gone downhill in helpfulness for each other, instead in place of it people are using people for their own ends without thanks or thinking twice about it i'm afraid.
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Re: Would you be happier living in Denmark?

Post by Ivan on Wed Apr 29, 2015 8:13 pm

Sandi Toksvig is leaving the News Quiz - I think I know why

From an article by Anne Perkins:-

"Toksvig’s decision coincides with new research that shows that older women are happier than older men, and both are happier than young people. In particular, Danish women are the happiest of all people in the land of Denmark which is known to be the happiest of all lands in the world. Although, in one poll, it did slip to third place, behind – improbably – Panama and Costa Rica. And here’s the thing, Toksvig is Danish!

Factor in the standing of older Danish women in the global league table of happiness and it becomes clear that Toksvig can only be leaving in order to relish to the full simply being alive and old and Danish and a woman. Although, since she is a mere 56, it may be just so that she can look forward to being alive etc etc.

There are many, many studies of happiness. On the whole, they look at the material world. Danes describe themselves as happy, and they live in a world where their high taxes bring them a wonderful welfare state; older Danes are particularly happy because there is excellent universal childcare which means that grandparents do not have to take on a second career as child minders.

That’s quite persuasive. Less often mentioned, though also true, is that Denmark is a relatively equal society, and that, too, has been shown to make for a happier people. Either way, it’s external factors, where you live, and how, that make you happy
."

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/apr/29/sandi-toksvig-leaves-news-quiz-happy-danish-women
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Re: Would you be happier living in Denmark?

Post by boatlady on Wed Apr 29, 2015 8:43 pm

I am slightly acquainted with a Danish woman - many years ago she looked like marrying one of my first husband's nephews, stayed with us for a short while, as you do when you're thinking of marrying into a family, then I lost sight of her.

In the past year, she has become a Facebook friend (see, it's good for something!) and I have been able to form an idea of how she approaches life.
She seems very comfortable in her own skin, she has many friends (that she actually spends time with - not just imaginary friends like me) she has a range of interests that keep her happy and engaged, she seems to be still in contact with my former nephew by marriage. I think she's a librarian - not a really well-paid job - but it's my impression that her life pleases and interests her no end.
It's unlikely I'll meet her in the flesh again but if I did I suspect it would be a great pleasure. When I read Ivan's piece about Denmark I kept thinking about her - maybe there's something in this idea of paying higher taxes and being happier
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Re: Would you be happier living in Denmark?

Post by oftenwrong on Wed Apr 29, 2015 10:43 pm

We shouldn't have difficulty with the Danish language if we went there. For example

"Storstrømsbrosekspropriationskommissionsmedlem"

obviously means Member of the commission to expropriate private property (for the building of) the bridge over Storstrømmen, once you stop to think about it.
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Re: Would you be happier living in Denmark?

Post by Ivan on Sun Nov 20, 2016 12:29 am

Have you ever heard of countries where murder and other crime rates are almost zero? Can there be any other country offering a pollution-free and corruption-free life with stable economic growth even at recession times? If you want to live in such a country, head on to Denmark because it is the only country that offers almost all the mentioned facilities and securities.

https://lifestyle9.org/worlds-best-country-to-live-in-2013/4/
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Re: Would you be happier living in Denmark?

Post by Ivan on Fri Nov 10, 2017 4:13 pm

Fed up with Brexit Britain? Come to work in Denmark

From an article by Morten Østergaard:-

"Freedom to travel freely between all of the countries in the European Union – for business and pleasure. Businesses without red tape and bureaucracy, benefiting from the free-trade agreements within the union. A life without concerns about what will happen when Brexit talks are over. We offer many advantages. Most important, you will be part of a society that is a part of a union dedicated to finding common solutions on the migration crisis, international crime and climate change. We are proud to be members of a community that works together on these common challenges. Challenges no single country can solve on its own. We are proud members of the EU and we are truly sad that the UK is leaving us, but please know that our arms are open. What we also want you to know is that we are trying our very best to affect the Brexit negotiations so that we can offer not only EU residents but also Britons good working conditions in Denmark after 2019."

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/nov/10/fed-up-brexit-britain-come-work-denmark-eu#comment-108032780
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