Denmark world’s second-happiest country after latest report

Denmark is second behind Finland in the annual World Happiness Report, which was published on Wednesday.

Denmark world’s second-happiest country after latest report
File photo: Sofie Mathiassen/Ritzau Scanpix

Often dubbed the ‘world’s happiest country’, Denmark was in fact most recently named in first place on the world happiness list in 2016, and was also top of the ranking in 2013.

The Scandinavian country was third-happiest in the world last year and in 2015, but is now back up to second spot, a position it last held in 2017.

Nordic neighbour Finland is in first place and the happiest country in the world by measure of the report, for the second year in a row.

Norway, Iceland, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden, New Zealand, Canada and Austria form the rest of the 2019 top ten, while the United States ranked 19th, dropping one spot from last year. The United Kingdom is 15th, up four spots from 19th in 2018.

The 2019 edition of the World Happiness Report, released annually since 2012 by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), was released on Wednesday. Nordic and European countries generally dominate the top end of the ranking.

A survey that ranks 156 countries by how happy their citizens perceive themselves to be, the 136-page report uses measures for factors like levels of caring, freedom to make life decisions, social support, generosity, good governance, honesty, health and income.

This year’s report focuses on happiness and the community, taking in a focus on technology, social norms, conflicts and government policies that have driven changes in those areas.

Special chapters focus on generosity and social behaviour, the effects of happiness on voting behaviour, big data, and the happiness effects of internet use and addictions.

Globally, happiness has fallen in recent years, driven by a sustained downward trend in India, according to the press release published on the World Happiness Report website with the release of the report.

There has been a widespread recent upward trend in worry, sadness and anger, especially marked in Asia and Africa, and more recently elsewhere, the press release notes.

“The world is a rapidly changing place,” Professor John Helliwell, co-editor of the report, said in the press release.

“How communities interact with each other whether in schools, workplaces, neighbourhoods or on social media has profound effects on world happiness,” Helliwell added.

READ ALSO: Getting sadder? Denmark slips to third in 2018 World Happiness Report

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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.


“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.