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article imageOp-Ed: Who works longest hours? Koreans most, Dutch and Germans least

By Paul Wallis     May 24, 2012 in World
Sydney - A new OECD study has found that the hours worked around the world are very different. Interestingly, the richest countries work far shorter hours than the poorest. Greece has the longest hours of any European country.
The extremely catty, cynical unforgiving employment market has created some very ironic situations. The Greeks blame Germany for the hated austerity imposed on them by the European Union. The OECD chart published by the BBC tells the story. The Germans work 1408 hours per year, as opposed to the Greeks’ 2017. Norway, usually credited with the top standard of living in the world, works 1413. The US averages 1695 and Australia 1687.
(Only 1687? I work 7 days a week, 2688 hours, which is 1001 hours more than the Australian average and 970 hours more than the OECD average. That’s allowing 20 days off which I usually don’t take. Being self-employed brings with it a few extra hours, too. Meanwhile- Get off it, you bludgers.)
A range of factors, notably downsizing, “doing more with less” (and doing it incredibly badly) and the ideological commitment of some outdated Western dinosaurs, particularly in the United States to wage poverty has warped the market. China, sadly, isn’t measured because it’s not an OECD member. The lower wage earners definitely work much longer hours, but it’d be an interesting picture.
The wages and profitability fallacy
The fact that two of the world’s most efficient economies, Germany and Norway, work only two thirds of the hours of the least efficient should mean something to someone. Workers in these countries have better price structures, better wages and longer life spans. They’re also very prosperous countries and allow their workers time off, too. The Germans also take 40 days off per year including annual paid leave and public holidays.
It is an obvious fallacy that wages somehow reduce profits. Primitive job design and megalomaniacal employment policies have contributed a lot to the decline of Western living standards and wages. Apparently the simple idea of designing a job to deliver profits with technology and productivity hasn’t yet dripped down to the micro-intellects in the US and the Western countries which slavishly follow its self-destructive model. You’d swear you were watching the Flintstones when American conservatives talk about labor costs.
Germany and Norway are hardly communist states. They provide for their people, however, and their taxes pay for services, not merely insane politicians. France, also very near the bottom of hours worked, also has a system of benefits for its citizens. (The French system gets a lot of criticism from the French, but France isn’t exactly a hick country, either.)
Check out your hours and see how you rate. You may be surprised or horrified, but compare your hours to the rest of the world. It’s an interesting experience.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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