Assuming that U.S. workers took 12 of their 15 vacation days, Expedia concluded that 375 million paid vacation days were missed during the past year. Their “Vacation Deprivation” survey covered 9,424 employed adults in 28 countries.
You can see that the Japanese workers who participated in the survey had the most unused days:
Where are we going? To deciding how much to work.
Japan’s Premium Friday
The Japanese government is encouraging businesses to let employees leave work at 3 PM during the last Friday of every month.
Some say their goal is the extra Friday afternoon shopping that could give the economy a boost. Others point to worker morale and long hours that have resulted in a higher suicide rate and diminished productivity.
So far, the idea has not quite caught on. Reflecting the typical response, one banker said that leaving early means catching up on Sunday. Correspondingly, attendance has been sparse at special Friday afternoon events.
Our Bottom Line: Reference Points
Looking at sentiment about the length of the workday, of the workweek, or of our vacations, a behavioral economist might take us to a reference point. Reference points come in handy as a tool for assessing an accomplishment. At work we will be unhappy with a 5% raise when an associate gets 7%. If our stock portfolio plunges, we don’t feel so bad if the S&P declined even more.
So where are we? Just beginning to see that work attitudes in Japan, the U.S. and the EU can relate to different reference points.
My sources and more: Involving history, economics and psychology, explanations of how much we work are endless. This Atlantic article discussed the history of the five-day workweek while economist Robert Whaples looked at it here. Meanwhile, Japan’s resistance to cutting its workweek was reported by the Guardian and the WSJ. In addition, though of questionable economic value, the Expedia Vacation Deprivation Index does provides some insight. And finally, we have more vacation days data at econlife.
Please note that several sentences in this post were previously published at econlife.