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Look Denmark 100k Selsoe Sorensen

Denmark’s Heartrunner App sends one out of 100K+ first response volunteers to nearby cardiac emergencies. These volunteers often arrive before ambulances. (Martin Selsoe Sorensen/Washington Post

COPENHAGEN – I’m the chief executive officer of Happiness Research Institute. Each week, I meet with a handful of journalists from around the globe. Denmark consistently ranks as one of the happiest countries around the globe. Many journalists will stare at me with disbelief, asking, “Danes pay the highest taxes in this world, so why is it so happy?”

Denmark has one among the highest tax rates worldwide, which is often cited as one reason for the opposition to the Danish welfare model. Denmark’s average annual income is approximately 39,000 euros (nearly $43,000). As such, the average Dane has to pay 45 percent in income tax. Danish income taxes follow a progressive tax system. This means that if you earn more than 61,000 euros (roughly $67,000 per year), you will be subject to an additional 7 percent tax rate.


However, Gallup’s 2014 survey found that nearly nine out of ten Danish citizens happily paid their taxes to some degree or higher.

Investing in the quality of your life

Denmark has high-level support for the welfare system due to its ability to transform our collective wealth into well-being. We do not pay taxes. We are investing in society. We are investing in the quality of life.

The welfare model is key to understanding Denmark’s high happiness levels. It can reduce anxiety, uncertainty, and risks among its citizens and prevent extreme unhappiness.

Danish welfare model offers citizens opportunities to pursue happiness from high starting positions, regardless of cultural, economic, social, gendered, or cultural background. Let me show you some.

Education is free. There is no tuition fee at the university level. Each month, each student in Denmark gets $900 from the state. I no longer have to worry about funding my children’s education. It will be their abilities and dreams that determine their career paths, not my financial resources.

The Danish parental leave laws are among the most generous. There is a 52-week maximum, of which parents can receive 32 weeks of monetary assistance from the state. Additionally, most employees get five weeks of vacation which allows families and friends to enjoy quality time together.


Everybody has access to high-quality health care, and the welfare model acts as a risk reduction mechanism. Danes are happier because they have less to be concerned about than others.

Let’s look closer at how the Danish flexible-security model offers flexibility and lowers unemployment worries.

Danish flexicurity model

Danish labor market principles include flexibility for employers, worker security, and an active labor market policy. These three elements together form the golden triangle for flexicurity. They work out for the mutual benefit of all involved. The golden triangle is a good fit for all three parties: workers, employers, and the unemployed.

It allows businesses to adapt to changing circumstances and keeps them in business. Also, it provides safety nets for workers and the disabled. Employers are able to make changes easily in their staff and the unemployed have the ability to look for new work without having to worry about the same financial worries.

An active labor market policy is also intended to keep the unemployed and employed active and skilled. Workers have many opportunities to learn new skills and continue their education. The active labor market strategy provides assistance for the unemployed to help them find a job and keep them engaged in the process of applying for new jobs.


The golden triangle that is flexicurity

Multiple scholars claim that Denmark’s success in happiness surveys is due to the welfare model’s ability to alleviate risks and insecurities. Denmark excels in preventing extreme unhappiness. According to a research paper, from 2010, the poorest Danes were generally happier than those in the richest countries. The reason is that the public benefits available in Denmark for the poorest are much greater than that of wealthy Americans. Denmark is known for being one of the most resilient countries to changes and the least anxious.

Denmark and Sweden are very similar in terms of happiness. Richard A. Easterlin is a Professor of Economics at the University of Southern California. He explains that there is greater happiness and equality in Denmark than in Scandinavia. This is mainly because the poorest people do better than other countries.

Happiness is a new measure of progress.

People who make the laws that shape our lives are becoming more concerned about happiness.

Happiness, well-being, quality of life, and happiness have significantly influenced policy-making in recent years. In a resolution, the United Nations invited countries to begin measuring happiness among their population. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has also included life satisfaction in its development criteria. OECD SecretaryGeneral Angel Gurria declared “Improving quality of our lives should always be the ultimate objective of public policy.”

These aspirations reflect the growing awareness by politicians and scientists of the fact that economic progress does not always indicate a society’s advancement.


Despite the fact that there has been economic growth, I still see massive economic anxiety. I see South Korea, the United States, and South Korea as countries that have experienced enormous growth in recent decades but are failing to transform wealth into well-being for their citizens.

Denmark is far from a perfect utopia. It faces many challenges and has to deal with the same problems as any other country. However, Denmark is a great example of how countries can improve the quality of their lives.

Shreya is a young mind who is always in search of creativity, be it in work or living a life. She's a keen observer who loves to pen down her thoughts on anything and everything. With a factful mind, she's here sharing some with you!


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