Happiness research: Why are the Danes so happy?

Friends eating pizza on a bridge

For the Danes, family and friends, good conversations and social interaction are very important. © pixdeluxe, Getty Images

The Danes are very similar to the Germans in many ways. You like direct communication, love punctuality and reliability. But they have something that sets them apart from the Germans: hygge. Hygge is commonly translated as coziness, but that's just a small aspect of the term. Hygge is familiarity and comfort, security, conflict-free togetherness and warmth - a nice balance when work life is stressful.

In Germany, hygge is associated with candlelight and winter. But there is no season for hygge and you don't need candles for it either. Even a business appointment can be "hyggelig". But what is it that defines hygge?

The Danes are happy

Denmark occupies in Word Happiness Report 2023 the second place. Only the Finns are happier. The researchers counted the following factors among the criteria for happiness: social cohesion, wealth, life expectancy and freedom of choice. A key reason why the Danes are so happy could be the great trust that people have in each other. This is because people are very correct. According to a survey by Ernst & Young, only four percent of Danes are willing to break the rules to gain an advantage. For comparison: In Germany it is 23 percent. That makes the Danes the most honest people in Europe.

However, the great satisfaction and trust do not only affect people's state of mind. The economic factors are also based on honesty and trust. This is the only way stable business relationships and good cooperation are possible. This is also the basis for the good economic growth in the Scandinavian country.

How can happiness even be measured?

The World Happiness Report is based on representative surveys in 156 countries around the world. The participants were asked about their individual perception. Six dimensions are particularly important: generosity, social support, health awareness, freedom of choice and gross domestic product. The Finns are the happiest, followed by the Danes. Iceland is in third place, followed by Israel and the Netherlands. Germany landed in 16th place.

What makes the Danes so happy?

How come the Scandinavians live such a happy life? Maybe they have one "Culture of Happiness"? The fact is that interpersonal relationships are very important in Denmark. They maintain contact with family and friends and build a community. People have more basic trust, which results in more willingness to help and a common consensus. Basic trust in Denmark is very high. This also affects society and every single person. The mood is full of trust and very positive. This makes people much more willing to be selfless. As a result, people feel better, are healthier, have better relationships, have longer life expectancies and are also more productive at work. Overall, being happy is very desirable. Danish politics also prioritizes people's well-being. The Danes actually have something like a "culture of happiness".

Experience the Danish way of life: tips for more Danish serenity

The Danish Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen has repeatedly found that a strong sense of community is the reason for particularly happy people. The Danes meet a lot with family and friends, talk to each other, share a lot. In an emergency, 95 percent of people say they can rely on these people.

The core of Danish happiness is hygge, meaning enjoying the good things in life with loved ones. The building blocks are friends and family. Add to that good food and comfort. If you want to experience it yourself, you should Holiday in Denmark make. The Danish cosiness can be felt especially in a holiday home, but also in hotels or the small café on the corner. With a few tips, everyone can bring hygge home.

Hygge season is all year round, not just in the dark season. Hygge is reflected in the furnishings and in the culinary delights. In summer people are outside, having street parties, barbecuing with friends, having a picnic in the park. For particularly hygge feelings, the candlelight is everywhere. This can also be seen in the candle consumption. The Danes consume between six and eight kilograms. In Germany it is only two to three kilograms.

The high season for hygge is actually in the winter. In Denmark, the winters are long, dark and cold. The Danes defy the darkness with hygge, especially with candlelight and cozy lighting. At Christmas time, everything is beautifully illuminated everywhere. There is "Gløgg", the Danish mulled wine and many cozy Christmas markets.


It is inspiring to see how other people create their own happiness and what contributes to it. It is not necessary to implement everything. It might not be that easy in another environment. But even a slightly changed mindset can help to become happier.


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