This morning I didn’t have time to go to the gym so I took out my wonderful new white Schwinn bicycle and got in a couple of miles. Then I found a link to this report in The Huffington Post from a friend (thanks, Joy):
“Released Monday, the 2013 World Happiness Report ranks the happiest countries around the globe, with Denmark, Norway and Switzerland leading the pack. Among North American countries, Canada took sixth place, while Mexico (16) slightly outranked the U.S. (17).
The report is the second of its kind released by a coalition of researchers including John F. Helliwell of the University of British Columbia and Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, the London School of Economics’s Richard Layard and Jeffrey D. Sachs, director of Columbia University’s Earth Institute. The team drew upon Gallup World Poll data from the the past three years to rank the 156 countries on aspects such as healthy life expectancy, freedom to make life choices and social support.
Why was Denmark crowned the happiest country in the world?
“The top countries generally rank higher in all six of the key factors identified in the World Happiness Report,” wrote University of British Columbia economics professor John Helliwell, one of the report’s contributing authors. “Together, these six factors explain three quarters of differences in life evaluations across hundreds of countries and over the years.”
1. SUPPORT FOR PARENTS: While American women scrape by with an average maternal leave of 10.3 weeks, Danish families receive a total of 52 weeks of parental leave. Mothers are able to take 18 weeks and fathers receive their own dedicated 2 weeks at up to 100 percent salary. The rest of the paid time off is up to the family to use as they see fit.
But the support doesn’t stop at the end of this time. Danish children have access tofree or low-cost child care. And early childhood education is associated with health and well-being throughout life for its recipients — as well as for mothers. What’s more, this frees up young mothers to return to the work force if they’d like to. The result? In Denmark, 79 percent of mothers return to their previous level of employment, compared to 59 percent of American women. These resources mean that women contribute 34 to 38 percent of income in Danish households with children, compared to American women, who contribute 28 percent of income.
2. NATIONAL HEALTHCARE SYSTEM: “Danish citizens expect and receive health care as a basic right. But what’s more, they know how to effectively use their health systems. Danish people are in touch with their primary care physician an average of nearly seven times per year…”
3. GENDER EQUALITY: “As Katie J.M. Baker puts it in her exploration of gender politics in the Scandinavian country: “Unlike in America, where bestsellers goad already overworked and underpaid women to Lean In even further, the assumption in Denmark is that feminism is a collective goal, not an individual pursuit.” ”
4. BIKING IS THE NORM: Researchers found that for every kilometer traveled by bike instead of by car, taxpayers saved 7.8 cents (DKK 0.45) in avoided air pollution, accidents, congestion, noise and wear and tear on infrastructure. Cyclists in Copenhagen cover an estimated 1.2 million kilometers each day –- saving t
he city a little over $34 million each year. And, 30 minutes of daily biking adds an average of one to two years to the life expectancy.
5. POSITIVE ABOUT A HARSH CLIMATE: the Danes are masters of “hygge” – cultivated coziness.
6. RESPONSIBLE TO EACH OTHER: a value is placed on good citizenship; 40% contribute as volunteers to culture, sports, community organizations.