Recently I read The Year of Living Danishly which is essentially a case study of what makes Denmark tick. The author’s husband started working for Lego, so they both moved there and started a new life in a foreign land. The book talks about their adventures of being immigrants there and why they think it is ranked as the happiest country.
Throughout my life I have always heard that Scandinavian countries are the best because of it’s lifestyle and the government programs. Denmark is a democratic socialist country with taxes as high as 56 percent. However, in return for that you have free health care, free education for all ages (even college supposing you qualify), free maternity and paternity leave, unemployment leave for up to two years, a shorter work week, and more.
Some interesting and surprising facts I learned:
Has the least variance in DNA among the population, meaning everyone is genetically similar.
Only has a population of around 6 million people.
Over 50 percent of the female population reported being a victim of physical or sexual violence.
Has 10 hours of sunlight each week in the winter
Has significantly high levels of smoking
42 percent of marriages end in divorce (far above the European average)
It is a social activity to tour the slaughterhouse or watch animals be dissected.
Specialized rooms where one can consume “illegal drugs” legally, this is to supposedly diminish overdose related deaths and drug crimes.
In the public schools the same group of twenty children take classes together for ten years.
Could the high smoking rates be because the Danish people are not responsible for their own healthcare?
Do the high levels of violence on women stem from gender equality?
Is everyone so trusting of each other because they all look alike?
Do these factors contribute to Denmark being the happiest country? Or is Denmark the happiest country in spite of these issues?
One thing which shocked me is the high level of trust in the government. People there trust each other and do not mind paying high taxes because the government has quality programs. What a surprising change from most countries (USA).
However, it was frequently said in the book, “The Danish way is the only way,” meaning whatever the government said was the right way to live life, is the only acceptable way.
Overall, it was an informative, comical, well-written book, which I would highly recommend. However, it did not convince me to pack up my bags and move to Denmark. I do not think I would like to live there, maybe because I could not handle the winters, but also I like having a choice of how I live my life—apart from the government.