Wealth Management firm UBS has released the results of a survey that shows the French work fewer hours than anyone else in the world, yet they're also among the most productive.
The UBS survey consisted of a comparison of purchasing power in 73 cities around the world, and some of the results were analysed by The Business Insider.
People in those cities work an average of 1,902 hours a year, and those who work the longest hours are people living in the Middle East and Asia.
Lyon and Paris, France are the cities where people spend less time at the office than anywhere else on the planet: 1,594 hours in Paris and only 1,582 in Lyon.
At first glance, these results seem to indicate the French – and those from Lyon in particular – are quite simply the laziest people in the world. But that is far from being the case, as another study shows they produce almost the most wealth per hour worked, even though they work the least.
Nationmaster, a global economy analysis centre, estimated France’s GDP, or Gross Domestic Product, to be $36,500 per capita in 2006. That puts them in 18th place globally. They earn that money, however, by working 16 per cent fewer hours than the average global citizen.
So, dividing the French GDP per capita by the number of hours worked results in one of the highest rates of GDP per hour worked.
Nationmaster provides statistics which permit that calculation: France, with its $36,500 GDP figure and 1,453 hours worked in a year, has a GDP per capita Hour Rate of $25.10.
America, for example, has a $44,150 GDP figure and works1,792 hours per year. This means that Americans have a GDP per capita rate of only $24.60.
The difference is $0.50, which is not enormous in terms of one single hour worked. But when it’s multiplied over the whole of the population it equates to a lot of money and a relatively higher lifestyle, in theory.
So does this mean that the French know something others don’t? It is clear the answer is yes, if being smart means working fewer hours for more money.
All is not lost for the rest of the world however, because what is not shown in the figures, and what this Englishman living in France knows very well, is that the word “tax man” is never far from anyone’s lips.