I just discovered a surprising statistic.
In the euro zone, judged by hours per week, the Germans are not nearly the hardest workers. Instead Greece, with an average of 42.1 hours is close to the top of the list. By contrast, for 2011, the average German devotes 35.5 hours to a job and the Netherlands, with the lowest time, is 30.5.
The reasons that Greeks work long hours relate to where and who. More Greeks are in agriculture where longer hours prevail. Also, in Greece, people tend to work full time or not at all while in Germany there are more part-time opportunities. Finally, more women work in euro zone countries and women tend to work less.
This takes us to a predictable conclusion. Although Germans work less, they are much more productive. A Greek worker generates €20.3 per hour while Germans produce more than double at €42.3. In 2011, at €51.8 an hour, the Irish topped the productivity list and their low corporate tax seemed to be the reason. Attracting multinational firms, they became a magnet for the world’s best technology, technology that boosted Irish productivity to relatively stratospheric levels.
A definition: When we look at productivity, we are comparing factor inputs-land, labor and capital– to the value of the goods and services they create. More output from less input means a more productive economy. It also means resources are then freed to do other work and produce still more.
Sources and Resources: Many thanks to the Brussels WSJ blog where I first saw the Greek German worker hours/productivity comparison. For up-to-date information and analysis on worker hours and productivity, Eurostats has easily accessible data.
Legend (euro per hour worked):
- Lighter yellow: 4.8-10.8
- Darker yellow: 10.8-20.2
- Lighter green: 20.2-39.2
- Dark green: 39.2-46.2
- Darkest green: 46.2-68.7
- Gray: No data