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There is something rotten in the state of Denmark

For few years now Danes were crowned as the happiest nation in the world. But how do you define happiness and is the happiest nation equivalent with happiness?

Now I’m not a fan of these lists and statistics, because I often find them not all that general and representative. The one naming Danes happiest nation in the world is quite a good one, I must say. The parameters, the way it was conducted and also the fact that it was based on UN’s parameters all breathe certain credibility to it.

Also the fact Denmark is one of the richest counties in the world, with lowest level of corruption must play a part in that overall feeling of happiness. It all gives meaning doesn’t it? So far so good.

On the other hand there are number of other parameters and facts that do put certain shadow over this ferry tale land.

Looking at some other official statistic there seems to be another side to this shiny medallion.

Denmark has a population of 5.500.000 people and 420.000 of those use antidepressants. That’s 1 in 13 Danes using medication to fight depression. Now that’s a truly scary thought. 1 in 13 feeling so unhappy and depressed that they are prescribed medication to fight it. How many more are there who still didn’t make it to a doctor due to lack of motivation, embarrassment or something completely else? The total number of people who are unhappy to the degree that that seek professional or medical help, must be far larger than 420.000.

860.000 Danes use too much alcohol. That’s approximately one if 6 people. And that’s including babies, children and those who don’t drink alcohol. How does that fit in the actuation? Happy because they drink? Drink because they are happy? That fact also adds a somewhat ironic spin to that enormous Carlsberg Beer billboard at baggage claim at Copenhagen’s Airport, welcoming the millions of travellers to “the world’s happiest nation*”.

Carlsberg

Furthermore 300.000 Danes suffer form SEVERE stress. That’s around 1 in 18. Note that this is not number of people suffering from stress, but from severe case of stress. 1 in 18 including babies and small children!

Around 200.000 suffer from loneliness. That’s 200.000 in a population of 5.500.000. That’s a truly staggering number. This in time and age where communication appears easier than ever.

At this hour two most extreme political parties form both sides of the political spectre have combined almost 30% of votes from the Danish public and alone the most extreme right side party is not the second biggest political party in Denmark with some 20% of votes. That’s one in five Danes. History often shows that the rise of far left and far right parties in any given country is connected with rise of discontent and fear in its population. The parties from the each end of political spectrum are these years experiencing some of the biggest support of their existence. Does that reflect the happiness of Denmark’s population?

The current refugee crisis as it’s referred to in Europe has also showed some interesting aspects to the happiness and satisfaction of the Danes. Not so much because of the hostile attitude towards the refugees, but on contrary, because of the views of majority of refugees have towards Denmark. Most of them see it as a place they had to pass in order to get to Sweden, Finland and Norway. Considering that these people are on the refuge from annihilation it’s rather shocking that they did their best to avoid the richest country in the world and the happiest nation in the world. They did that also when they were being detained in Denmark against their will.

TV2 refugees in Denmark

All things taken into consideration I don’t see it as unlikely that Danes are among the happiest nations in the world, but being number one on happiness chart is in no way equal with being happy, which is proven by many of the other statistics presented above. A pessimistic way at looking at would be that we’re not the happiest nation in the world, but rather least miserable.

Not much about this story … made me smile.

 

Population of Denmark 5.500.000
Using antidepressants 420.000 – (appx. 1 in 13)
Consuming too much alchohol 860.000 – (appx. 1 in 6)
Suffering from severe stress 300.000 – (appx. 1 in 18)
Suffering from loneliness 200.000 – (appx. 1 in 27)

 

Airport photo by: Peter Kirkeskov Rasmussen
Little girl photo by: TV2 screengrab
Hägar the Horrible original drawing by: Chris Browne