Social Indicators Research

, Volume 97, Issue 2, pp 229–246 | Cite as

The Danish Effect: Beginning to Explain High Well-Being in Denmark

  • Robert Biswas-DienerEmail author
  • Joar Vittersø
  • Ed Diener


Although income and happiness have been linked at both the individual and national levels of analysis, few studies have specifically examined the different relationships between these two variables in affluent nations. This study investigates various measures of well-being in both the United States and Denmark. Respondents in both countries reported high levels of well-being but Americans generally reported greater positive and negative affect while Danes reported higher levels of satisfaction and enjoyment. Interestingly, low income respondents in the United States reported higher negative affect and lower life satisfaction than their counterparts in Denmark. For positive affect, the major difference between the two countries was found among high income respondents. The key to understanding differences in the well-being of these two nations appears to lie in understanding the well-being of the poor. Suggestions for future directions in research are discussed.


Life satisfaction Positive affect Happiness Denmark USA Income 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Biswas-Diener
    • 1
    Email author
  • Joar Vittersø
    • 2
  • Ed Diener
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Center for Applied Positive PsychologyPortlandUSA
  2. 2.University of TromsøTromsøNorway
  3. 3.University of IllinoisChampaignUSA
  4. 4.The Gallup OrganizationWashingtonUSA

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