Pinch yourself. Much that could have gone wrong in the euro zone suddenly seems to be going right. Germany’s constitutional court in Karlsruhe has given the go-ahead for a new rescue fund. A banking union is taking shape…this builds on a recent pledge from the European Central Bank (ECB) to act to stop the break-up of the currency. Even angry talk of expelling the Greeks from the euro has died down.
And Europe is moving to becoming a federalist nation, at least for monetary purposes. With many more leaders calling for political federalism too.
Should we break out the Federalist Papers from John Jay, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton in 1787?
“Over the last century, you’ve seen a reduction from very long working hours – nearly 3,000 a year at the beginning of the 1900s – to the turn of the 21st Century when most developing countries were under 1,800 hours,” says Messenger. “And indeed some of the most productive countries were even lower than that.”
A look at the average annual hours worked per person in selected countries puts South Korea top with a whopping 2,193 hours, followed by Chile on 2,068.
British workers clock up 1,647 hours and Germans 1,408 – putting them at the bottom of the table, above only the Netherlands.
**The United States is at 1,695.
Greek workers have had a bad press recently but, as we reported in February, they work longer hours than any other Europeans. Their average of 2,017 hours a year puts them third in the international ranking, based on figures compiled by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
“…the US is the only developed country that has no legal or contractual or collective requirement to provide any minimum amount of annual leave,” he says.
The UK, in contrast, is subject to the European working time directive, which requires at least four weeks of paid annual leave for every employee.
Among the usual questions about attitudes to the euro and the European Union, people in eight nations (Britain, France, Germany, the Czech Republic, Greece, Italy, Poland and Spain) were asked which country in the European Union is the hardest-working.
The Greeks ignored the obvious answer (Germany) and instead nominated themselves. (The other seven nations all plumped for Germany, as the table shows.) Yet Greek perception is not quite as misaligned with reality as it seems. Greece does actually work the longest hours in Europe…However, as any economist will tell you, working longer does not equate with higher productivity, and Greece’s productivity is relatively low.