Posted by: lyonenglishnetwork | October 15, 2009


Denmark is the world’s happiest country – official

By Jerome Taylor

Tuesday, 1 August 2006

For those who think a tropical island paradise or a Beverly Hills mansion is the ultimate key to contentment, think again; the happiest place in the world is, according to sociologists, far closer to home.

In a new study aimed at charting each country’s levels of happiness, Denmark has scored top marks, followed closely by Switzerland, Austria and Iceland. Britain came 41st, 18 places behind the United States.

The study, conducted by the University of Leicester, compiled data from 178 countries and 100 global studies to map happiness across the world and found that countries with good access to healthcare and education came out on top.

The report’s author, Adrian White, said the results showed that people in the West should realise how lucky they were. “The current obsession in the West about how unhappy we are really needs a reality check,” he said. “I think one of the most destructive myths is that people in intense poverty are actually happy. Because if you believe that, why should you do anything?”

Most of Africa and the former Soviet republics scored worst. Burundi, Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo were the world’s least happy places.

The report did, however, contain some surprises. The tiny Himalayan nation of Bhutan, ruled by an autocratic monarch, came eighth, while nations such as Japan and France languished at 90th and 62nd respectively.

Benjamin Holst, a Danish journalist, said that Denmark’s high suicide rate – the second worst in Europe – and a recent rise in xenophobia should make people question just how content Danes were.

“I’m not sure about these studies and I really wonder about the suicide rates in Denmark,” he said. “I mean is it that we’re so happy we kill ourselves? I really wonder about that.”

On top of the world

* 1 Denmark
* 2 Switzerland
* 3 Austria
* 4 Iceland
* 5 Bahamas
* 6 Finland
* 7 Sweden
* 8 Bhutan
* 9 Brunei
* 10 Canada–official-410075.html

Posted by Fanny (inspired by Eric)



  1. Thanks F.

    Holst brings up good questions. And it’s true that I haven’t seen one black or Asian person while in Copenhagen last summer. Though I did hang out in a multicultural neighborhood for most of my stay. Happiness is a highly subjective matter so unless we read the complete study to verify both methodology and epistemology, it will be hard to give solid credibility to this research.

    Yet, whenever there is a study about the quality of life or the best place to live, isn’t it strange that it always seems to be the same countries which rank first? Whether it’s a UN report or a scientific study from some Ivy League place, it’s always Scandinavian countries, with Canada somewhere between 1 and 10.

    No place is perfect, that’s for sure. But maybe some places are just a little less imperfect than others… And sometimes, just sometimes, I wonder if I wouldn’t want to be between 1 and 10, just to catch my breath if nothing else.


    • Hi Eric,

      I understand your idea, but on the other hand, like you said, the notion of happiness is very subjective and I’d add very relative too.
      So, personally, I wonder if, in fact, it isn’t a question of culture…
      It’s one potential explanation but like you said, we’d need to go deeper into the study…

      Cheers for now,


  2. A question of culture… I’m not sure I understand what you mean. It would be a rather strange exercise to try to qualify culture. Culture is even more subjective than happiness, I think. And epistemologically, it would be extremely difficult to come up with some kind of postulate that would be solid enough to justify the methodology.

    If by culture you mean my difficulty to adapt to this one in particular, I would reply that this an obvious fact. But the study does not talk about culture and its integration from the outside. It speaks of how people represent themselves in relation to happiness. Culturally, French people have difficulties admitting to be satisfied and/or happy. That is a sociological and cultural fact, described in many studies. Could that fact not have been taken into account during the study? I tend to give more credits to Academics.


    • What I meant is exactly what you said here : “Culturally, French people have difficulties admitting to be satisfied and/or happy. That is a sociological and cultural fact, described in many studies.”
      And to answer to your question : “Could that fact not have been taken into account during the study?”, well actually, maybe the study mentions it at some point but the article doesn’t mention it. But I do think that the study at first couldn’t take the cultural aspect into consideration otherwise it wouldn’t be objective. Having worked for a survey institute myself, I know how important this is. After that, you can always put the results in perspective and/or in the cultural light.
      In any case, I didn’t mean to refer to anything personal of course and I find the debate quite interesting.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: