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indicator value unit
Population 5.8 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 above the average in many dimensions: housing, work-life balance, social connections, environmental quality, civic engagement, education and skills, jobs and earnings, work-life balance, health status, subjective well-being and personal security. It ranks below average in income and wealth. These rankings are based on available selected data.

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 29 606 a year, lower than the OECD average of USD 33 604 a year. But there is a considerable gap between the richest and poorest – the top 20% of the population earn nearly four times as much as the bottom 20%.

In terms of employment, 74% of people aged 15 to 64 in Denmark have a paid job, above the OECD employment average of 68%. Some 77% of men are in paid work, compared with 72% of women. In Denmark, about 2% of employees work very long hours, less than the OECD average of 11%. Some 4% of men work very long hours compared with just about 1% of women.

Good education and skills are important requisites for finding a job. In Denmark, 81% of adults aged 25-64 have completed upper secondary education, higher than the OECD average of 78%. This is truer for women than men, as 79% of men have successfully completed high-school compared with 83% of women. In terms of education quality, the average student scored 504 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 486. On average in Denmark, girls outperformed boys by 2 points, in line with the OECD average.

In terms of health, life expectancy at birth in Denmark is 81 years, one year higher than the OECD average of 80 years. Life expectancy for women is 83 years, compared with 79 for men. The level of atmospheric PM2.5 – tiny air pollutant particles small enough to enter and cause damage to the lungs – is 9.3 micrograms per cubic meter, lower than the OECD average of 13.9 micrograms per cubic meter. Denmark also does well in terms of water quality, as 95% 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, more than the OECD average of 89%, and one of the highest figures in the OECD. Voter turnout, a measure of citizens' participation in the political process, was 86% during recent elections; considerably higher than the OECD average of 68%. Voter turnout for the top 20% of the population is an estimated 89% and for the bottom 20% it is an estimated 84%, 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 7.6 grade on average, much higher than the OECD average of 6.5.

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


OECD in Action

OECD Economic Surveys: Denmark 2016

This 2016 OECD Economic Survey of the Denmark examines recent economic developments, policies and prospects. The special chapters cover: Macroeconomic and financial risk; Ageing and well-being.

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Denmark in Detail