Thursday, October 9, 2014

Are Danes the World's Happiest People? And other Scandinavian Stereotypes

Having now traveled to each of the Nordic countries, I wanted to respond with my new found knowledge to some common stereotypes/questions about the area.

Scandinavian women are empowered.
TrueA lamentably told joke I heard from a Dane was that women would leave their man the first time he left the toilet seat up.
High salaries across the board (a cashier in a department store can take home $4,000, waitresses make $20 an hour + tips) coupled with a progressive tax system flattening out the income curve, means that women do not need a dual income household to survive.
Scandinavian women have the choice of the types of behavior they are willing to put up with from their mates, whereas females in poorer countries with not only less opportunities, but where they get paid far less for the same work, are much more dependent.
I'd conjecture that marriages which last here are likely more healthy than in less economically advantaged countries.

Scandinavia is super expensive. 
Norway, nature-wise, is so utterly stunning
True: Norway is the most expensive country in the world, and the rest of the Nordic countries are not far behind. Heavy consumption taxes (VAT) combined with onerous regulations on businesses only fuel the fire. Despite this, Scandinavia has about the highest standard of living on earth, and if your wallet can take the beating, I'd highly recommend visiting.  (especially Norway and Sweden)

Finland is a Scandinavian country.
False. Actually, neither Finland or Iceland are considered part of Scandinavia.
Finns look much more closely related to Russians than they do Swedes, and the language has few similarities with other Nordic countries.
While Icelandic people are far closer in appearance and language, my guess is that the other Scandinavian countries wanted to disassociate themselves from the vast amounts of incest which takes place there (everyone is related to one another.) That said, I doubt my explanation would hold up in court. ... Both Iceland and Finland are considered part of the Nordic region.

I hear the languages are all very similar.
Semi-False: As noted above, the Finnish language is quite different. Norwegians speak in a quite pleasant sing-songy cadence which leaves Swedes, who speak more neutrally, at a loss understanding them, while the Danish sounds like two old cats fighting while they spit up hairballs.
A hearty congratulations to the people of Denmark, as the Danish language has fought off worthy competitors in Chinese, Dutch, Arabic, and German, to retain its crown as the world's ugliest sounding language. (Travel tip: bring some headphones)
Poll after poll rates Denmark the "happiest" nation on earth.
(clearing throat ...) FALSE: And Danes would agree. The Danish people actively avoid eye contact, and are wary of outsiders, though people in their early 20's are more open,
Now, if you were to describe Danes as the most "content" people on earth, I'd be willing to listen.
There is less jealousy as incomes are not only high but fairly equal, and the state provides for those in need (healthcare, pensions, unemployment insurance, etc.) People in Denmark have what they need, there is no lack, and there is little class differentiation, and even if there are visible differences, acting as though you're better than others will earn you much social scorn.
This is actually becoming a problem in schools, as the smart kids pretend to be slow on the uptake, an effort to avoid the ire of their dumber classmates. "Don't stick out" is a learned behavior not only in Denmark, but most of Scandinavia.
The places where I have found the happiest, people, where you can immediately feel it in upon coming in contact with people, are tropical islands like Fiji and Bali. 
French girlfriend of my Danish friend David on his 23rd birthday- nice people
I hear Scandinavian women are both hot and sexually liberated. 
glasses works at the Stockholm airport. The airport! 
In a TSA job! And her friend- zowie!

Both true: I would have to say Sweden has the best looking women in the world (read more about Swedish looks) If you like tall, blonde women who are take care of themselves physically, as a majority of men do, you'll have be in heaven. The rest of the Nordic countries don't quite match Sweden (as they drink more/ smoke more, etc.) but it's hard to go wrong in the Nordics.
And yes, partly a function of their economic independence, women here are definitely sexually liberated.
You want more details? Sorry, I'm not one to kiss and tell.


  1. Agreed! Sweden hands down for the best looking women in the world! They don't seem to reciprocal with their own kind, yet if your a foreigner its a completely different ball game...

    1. Tim my man. Curious what you mean "reciprocal" with their own kind. Feel free to expand :)

  2. Being a foreigner seems to break down a barrier, there have been many occasions where I have been out with Swedish friends who have received shocking customer service. As soon as I drop the good old Aussie accent you receive the royal treatment, its like it flicks a switch.


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