Despite a fall in the rankings from 11th to 14th, there remains various reasons to be cheerful in Denmark, the second happiest country in the world according to the 2019 World Happiness Index. Denmark continues its record of high scores in the Government, Enterprise, and Education sub-indices, rising an impressive seven places in the latter. Denmark has also made global headlines this year, with Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen’s measured response to US President Donald Trump’s offer to buy Greenland, an autonomous territory of Denmark, heard around the world. However, Denmark still struggles to gain recognition around the world for its own national identity, and criticisms of its politics becoming more anti-immigration point to an unlikely improvement in its performance in the Engagement sub-index any time soon. In order to move back up the rankings and once again edge towards a spot in the Soft Power top ten, Denmark must marshal its considerable soft power assets and communicate them on the world stage.
Denmark has seen a huge leap in the Education sub-index, rising an impressive seven places. The government’s strong emphasis on life-long education has paid off, with tax-financed and free-of-charge education encouraging all to boost their skills or pursue an interest, and one out of three Danish adults between the ages 25 and 64 are currently taking a continuing education course.
The Nordic countries are recognised across the globe for their strong government institutions and happy populations. Denmark can build upon this recognition by stressing its strong commercial and humanitarian successes, focusing on strengthening its capabilities in digital diplomacy, which will also help the country further drive engagement.
To propel itself into the top 10, Denmark should assert itself on the world stage by promoting its many successes in its low levels of corruption and high levels of citizen trust in government. Increasing global engagement through renewed involvement in international organisations would also benefit Denmark, although Denmark must also carefully manage perceptions of itself as a liberal democracy in the face of mounting calls from citizens to address immigration issues.