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August 2017

Setting National Policy Agendas in Light of the Denmark Results for Well-being

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Psychology and Behavioural Sciences, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark
  • 2Policy Research Group, Department of Psychology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom
JAMA Psychiatry. 2017;74(8):773-774. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2017.1330

In major international comparisons of population well-being, happiness, and life satisfaction, Denmark has been consistently rated at or near the top.1 This has resulted in an abundance of popular literature offering recipes on how people elsewhere can achieve more positive outcomes similar to those in Denmark. Moreover, the country has been mentioned as a model in relation to exploratory works targeted at how other countries may achieve higher levels of joie de vivre,2 though such direct attempts may be misguided. To question what applications may be extracted from insights from scientific work on well-being in Denmark, we critically consider the potential pitfalls of setting national agendas in light of Denmark results for well-being while exploring possible explanations and their policy implications.

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