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World Happiness Report: Denmark Leads the World in the Happiness Stakes

Posted on the 03 April 2012 by Periscope @periscopepost
World Happiness Report: Denmark leads the world in the happiness stakes

The Killing II

In news that may surprise fans of dark Danish crime drama The Killing, Denmark is the happiest country in the world, according to a new report. Far from being a nation of tortured jumper-wearing detectives and inventive serial killers, Denmark is a veritable hotbed of wellbeing and satisfaction. The news comes at a time of growing global enthusiasm for all things Dansk, with the popularity of TV dramas The Killing and Borgen, surging sales for Danish crime fiction and Danish interiors in ascendance.

The World Happiness Report was released ahead of a UN conference led by Bhutan to explore the relationship between happiness and economic prosperity. The tiny Himalayan nation uses a Gross Happiness Index alongside economic indices to measure prosperity, and is asking other world nations to consider the role of happiness in public policy.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron will be watching with interest: in 2010, the PM announced the launch of a new “wellbeing index” to measure the British public’s happiness in new ways.

Health versus wealth? “As the report shows, the richest countries are a lot happier than the poorest. The four happiest are all in Northern Europe (Denmark, Norway, Finland and the Netherlands) and the four least happy are in Sub-Saharan Africa,” wrote report editor John Helliwell at The Huffington Post. “But income is only one among many factors that explain the variation in happiness among people.” Other key factors include lack of government corruption, the employment rate, and mental and physical health.

Happiness matters. The report shows that “rich countries awash with wealth have a lot to learn from Bhutan, which is admired not for its gross domestic product but for its gross national happiness index,” wrote Sarah Boseley on a Guardian blog, pointing to UK plans to start measuring wellbeing.

“Happiness seems far too subjective, too vague, to serve as a touchstone for a nation’s goals, much less its policy content. That indeed has been the traditional view. Yet the evidence is changing this view rapidly,” said the World Happiness Report.

Leave our happiness alone. But Cameron’s plans to gauge public happiness came under fire in January with the publication of a report from the Institute of Economic Affairs, which branded the venture “short-term, transient and shallow.”

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