Denmark 'happiest place on earth'
If it is happiness you are seeking a move to Denmark could be in order, according to the first scientist to make a world map of happiness.
Adrian White, from the UK's University of Leicester, used the responses of 80,000 people worldwide to map out subjective well being. Denmark came top, followed closely by Switzerland and Austria. The UK ranked 41st. Zimbabwe and Burundi came bottom. A nation's level of happiness was most closely associated with health levels. Prosperity and education were the next strongest determinants of national happiness. read more
He said: "There is increasing political interest in using measures of happiness as a national indicator in conjunction with measures of wealth. "A recent BBC survey found that 81% of the population think the government should focus on making us happier rather than wealthier. read more
The Oprah Winfrey Show - Oprah on Location: The Happiest People on Earth - 10/21/2009
Women Around the World
In October 2009, Oprah traveled to Copenhagen, Denmark's charming capital city, to support Chicago's bid for the 2016 Olympics. Well, Chicago didn't get picked, but that didn't stop Oprah from enjoying her first visit to the country that's considered one of the happiest places on earth.
For the past 30 years, scientific researchers and survey results have all reached the same conclusion—Danes are consistently happier than the rest of the world. On the "world map of happiness"—a map created by a social psychologist in England—Switzerland, Austria and Iceland rank just below Denmark on the happiness scale. Canada comes in at number 10, while the United States is a distant 23rd.
So what makes the Danes so happy? Oprah met up with Nanna Norup, a resident of Copenhagen, to find out. As they walk down the cobblestone streets, Nanna explains some of the differences between Denmark and America.
For instance, in Copenhagen, people are very environmentally conscious. A third of the population rides bikes around the city, many with grocery bags or small children in tow.
Homelessness, poverty and unemployment are also extremely rare in this nation of 5.5 million people. If you lose your job, Nanna says the government continues to pay up to 90 percent of your salary for four years. And not to worry…healthcare is free for everyone.
The Danish government also takes a special interest in mothers and their children. Women typically get six to 12 months in paid maternity leave. And, when it's time to go to college, citizens get paid to go the universities. "When you go to university, then you get paid $400 or $500," Nanna says. "You have free education. Then, you have healthy, well-educated people in the world. What could beat that?"
Women in Denmark also don't feel pressure to get married. Nanna is 44 years old and single, and she says she didn't grow up dreaming of a bridal gowns and weddings. "It's never been a dream of mine," she says. "I don't think my girlfriends had that dream."
Stine, one of Nanna's friends, says she had three children with her partner before they decided to get married.
While visiting another family, Oprah discovers one more reason to be happy in Copenhagen—a delicious bread called Rugbrød! "I so love it," Oprah says. "I have a slice every morning. … It's like eating earth."
"The frustrations of modern life, and the anxieties of the age, seem to be much less significant compared to the health, financial and educational needs in other parts of the world." Mr White (on BBC)