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HAPPINESS

Danes’ ‘happiest’ claim challenged again

A new study released by the Copenhagen-based Happiness Research Institute shows that Denmark can no longer lay claim to the title of the happiest place on Earth.

Danes' 'happiest' claim challenged again
There was no shortage of happiness at Roskilde Festival, but then again these guys had just won the coveted 'Camp of the Year' award. Photo: Simon Skipper/Scanpix
While Denmark is still among the happiest countries in the world, it was overtaken by Finland, Netherlands and Norway in a new ‘Happiness Equality Index’ analysis from the Happiness Research Institute. 
 
In the index, which claims to be the first to have measured the link between happiness and equality, Denmark garnered a score of 1.47, just slightly behind Norway (1.46) and Netherlands (1.42), but far from Finland (1.35).
 
“Usually, the Nordic countries, Switzerland and the Netherlands top the happiness rankings based on national averages. But one thing is the happiness average, another is how happiness is distributed,” Meik Wiking, the CEO of The Happiness Research Institute, mentioned in the report.
 
Denmark´s fourth place finish in the index is largely due to the nation’s rising inequality, which increased by 3.5 percent between 2002 and 2012. In Europe, only the United Kingdom saw a greater rise in inequality.
 
The report states that it is “striking that Denmark and Switzerland, the only two countries which have ranked first in the World Happiness Report, have seen an increase in the inequality of how happiness is distributed”.
 
Wiking said that by introducing the concept of well-being equality, his institute “hopes to improve the debate about equality and increase our understanding of the consequences of inequality in society”. 
This is just the latest in a series of global reports and surveys to put Denmark’s status as the happiest country in the world in jeopardy.
 
In April, the UN’s World Happiness Report placed Denmark in third place. A study from the international WIN/Gallup poll in January also put Denmark behind Finland as the happiest country in Europe, and a Gallup and Healthways Global poll from September 2014 also put Denmark behind Panama and Costa Rica when it comes to overall well-being.
 
In March, however, Denmark topped a Eurostat study on life satisfaction released in conjunction with the International Day of Happiness.
 
Are the results from this “explosion in surveys that are trying to capture life satisfaction and happiness”, as the Happiness Research Institute writes, something that actually worries the Danes? We’re betting not. After all, the nation still sits among the very top of the polls and there are still plenty of things to be happy about in Denmark, as evidenced by this list of 27 reasons why Danes are the happiest people, no matter what the stats say.

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HAPPINESS

World’s second-happiest country Denmark to get museum about happiness

Denmark, famed for its regular spot near the top of the annual World Happiness Report, is to open a museum about feeling good.

World’s second-happiest country Denmark to get museum about happiness
File photo: Mads Nissen/Ritzau Scanpix

Why is it that the Nordic countries often top the World Happiness Reports? How has the perception of the good life evolved over time? And can you actually measure happiness? 

Visitors can look for the answers to these questions when the world’s first happiness museum opens in Denmark, which took second place behind Finland in the most recent edition of the report.

Thinktank Happiness Research Institute (Institut for Lykkeforskning) is behind the Happiness Museum, which is scheduled to open on Copenhagen's Admiralgade in May. Entry will cost 95 kroner for adults and 65 kroner for children and seniors.

The museum is led by Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute and author of a string of volumes on Danish happiness culture including the bestselling The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living. The museum is fully financed by Happiness Research Institute.

“The United Nations has put happiness on the agenda with the World Happiness Report, where Denmark consistently ranks in the top of the happiest countries,” Wiking said in written comments provided to The Local.

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“At the Happiness Research Institute we receive many requests for visits – as people imagine the office to be a magical place full of puppies and ice-cream. Sadly, we sit in front of computers and look at data and evidence – but we thought 'let’s create a museum where we can bring the science of happiness to life',” he added.

In the small museum, visitors will gain insight in the history of happiness, the politics of happiness, the anatomy of smiles and why the Nordic countries are considered happiness superpowers. 

The museum is interactive and visitors will take part in small exercises involving light and chocolate, as well as thought experiments, including: Would you take the red pill or the blue pill in the Matrix, being put in a machine that gives you the illusion of living your perfect life – or would you prefer to live in the real world?

Exhibits also include artefacts of happiness donated by people from around the world which remind them of their happiest moments.

“We might be Danish and British – but we are first and foremost people,” Wiking said.

“I hope visitors will see how alike we are when it comes to happiness – that our guests exit the museum wiser, happier and a little more motivated to make the world a better place,” he added.

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