Who Has the World’s Shortest Workweek?

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Hint: It's not the United States. There are plenty of countries where people work fewer hours a week on average.

The number we usually associate with a week of work is 40 hours, but that’s actually a bit high.

Wage-earning and salaried Americans work an average of 38 hours a week, CNNMoney says. The self-employed are not included, but part-timers are.

Using data from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, the site calculated the average workweek in many industrialized countries. They made a list of 10 (there are more) where people work shorter hours than we do:

  • Netherlands — 29 hours a week on average, for $47,000 a year on average.
  • Denmark — 33 hours a week, $46,000 a year.
  • Norway — 33 hours a week, $44,000 a year.
  • Ireland — 34 hours a week, $51,000 a year.
  • Germany — 35 hours a week, $40,000 a year.
  • Switzerland — 35 hours a week, $50,000 a year.
  • Belgium — 35 hours a week, $45,000 a year.
  • Sweden — 36 hours a week, $38,000 a year.
  • Australia — 36 hours a week, $45,000 a year.
  • Italy — 36 hours a week, $34,000 a year.

The good news is that we make an average of $54,000 for our 38 hours a week, the same data show. The bad news is that many of these countries also have better perks than we do.

“There’s a cultural gap between the United States and other wealthy societies. They’ve chosen to take a larger share of their prosperity as extra leisure. We’ve skimped,” The Washington Post says.

“All workers are entitled to fully paid vacation days, maternity and paternity leave” in the Netherlands, CNN says. “A law passed in 2000 also gives workers the right to reduce their hours to a part-time schedule, while keeping their job, hourly pay, health care and pro-rated benefits.”

Danish workers have the right to five weeks of paid vacation per year, CNN says, and Norwegians can get up to 43 weeks of maternity leave at full pay.

Do you think we work too much, or get too little in return? Or have these countries got it wrong? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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