As an American who worked in Denmark (Aarhus and Copenhagen) for two years, I have to laugh at the "better quality of life" meme that people so easily assert about Europe in general, and Scandinavia in particular. Maybe true if your definition of quality of life is only based on nationalized health care, but for the things I consider QoL, they're far behind. Even in the upscale neighborhood of Copenhagen where I lived, the homes (nearly all row houses, natch) are small, old, mildly drafty and unsoundproofed, with feeble plumbing and heating.
Denmark's per capita disposable income is also among the lowest in Europe, thanks to exorbitant income tax rates. But wait, you say, Denmark is routinely hailed as one of the most "happy" nations on earth? How do you explain that?
Here's why, though an explanation alone can never make it sink in the way firsthand experience can. Many of you will dismiss this explanation as egotistical, nationalistic, racist, ignorant...whatever. For the rest of you:
Danes are happy in their low-disposable-income, somewhat-shoddy-living-condition lives because they are all in it together. The quality of shared "Danishness" is a cultural foundation that most Americans literally cannot even imagine. They are a small, proud, culturally, economically and genetically homogenous culture who are individually willing to make shared sacrifices because they see the benefits going to people like themselves. This is why the so-called Scandanavian Model can never, EVER work in the US.
And it's not so much that they backstab and keep others from getting ahead, as that there are very strong, generally unspoken social norms such that being seen as trying to get ahead of your fellow Dane is a cause for gradual social ostricization. The culture doesn't hold people back, it prevents them from wanting to risk getting ahead. Important difference.
And to any Danes reading, I do love a lot of things about your country. It's the only place in the world where people feel safe enough to leave their babies in strollers outside the supermarket while they shop (incredulous foreigners, I have seen this more times than I can count!). I just can't stand my fellow Americans misunderstanding *why* Denmark is lovely--and the fact that we can never be like you.