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indicator value unit
Population 5.6 mil.
Visitors per year 20.6 mil.
Renewable energy 24.4 %

How’s Life?

Denmark performs very well in many measures of well-being relative to most other countries in the Better Life Index. Denmark ranks at the top in work-life balance. It ranks above the average in environmental quality, civic engagement, education and skills, jobs and earnings, income and wealth, and personal security.

Money, while it cannot buy happiness, is an important means to achieving higher living standards. In Denmark, the average household net-adjusted disposable income per capita is USD 26 491 a year, more than the OECD average of USD 25 908 a year. But there is a considerable gap between the richest and poorest – the top 20% of the population earn close to four times as much as the bottom 20%.

In terms of employment, over 73% of people aged 15 to 64 in Denmark have a paid job, above the OECD employment average of 65%. Some 75% of men are in paid work, compared with 70% of women. In Denmark,  2% of employees work very long hours, one of the lowest rates in the OECD where the average is 13%.About 3% of men work very long hours compared with just 1% for women.

Good education and skills are important requisites for finding a job. In Denmark, 78% of adults aged 25-64 have completed upper secondary education, higher than the OECD average of 75%. This is equally true of men and women. In terms of education quality, the average student scored 498 in reading literacy, maths and science in the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). This score is slightly higher than the OECD average of 497. On average in Denmark, girls outperformed boys by 2 points, less than the OECD average of 8 points.

In terms of health, life expectancy at birth in Denmark is 80 years, in line with the OECD average. Life expectancy for women is 82 years, compared with 78 for men. The level of atmospheric PM10 – tiny air pollutant particles small enough to enter and cause damage to the lungs – is 15 micrograms per cubic meter in large urban areas, considerably lower than the OECD average of 20.1 micrograms per cubic meter. Denmark also does well in terms of water quality, as 94% of people say they are satisfied with the quality of their water, more than the OECD average of 81%.

Concerning the public sphere, there is a strong sense of community and high levels of civic participation in Denmark, where 95% of people believe that they know someone they could rely on in time of need, higher than the OECD average of 88%, and one of the highest figures in the OECD. Voter turnout, a measure of citizens’ participation in the political process, was 88% during recent elections; considerably higher than the OECD average of 68%. Voter turnout for the top 20% of the population is an estimated 90% and for the bottom 20% it is an estimated 86%, a much smaller gap than the OECD average gap of 13 percentage points, and suggests there is broad social inclusion in Denmark’s democratic institutions.

In general, Danes are more satisfied with their lives than the OECD average. When asked to rate their general satisfaction with life on a scale from 0 to 10, Danes gave it a 7.5 grade, one of the highest scores in the OECD, where average life satisfaction is 6.6.

For more information on estimates and years of reference, see FAQ section and BLI database.


OECD in Action

OECD Economic Surveys: Denmark 2014

Denmark scores highly on many dimensions of well-being. Nevertheless, weakproductivity growth over the past two decades has contributed to a widening of the income gap vis-à-vis leading OECD economies. Renewing with stronger productivity growth over the longer run is an overarching challenge for Denmark and calls for keeping up structural reform efforts.

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Denmark in Detail