C’est la vie: New data shows that Europeans work about an hour less a day than Americans

Time for a siesta?
Time for a siesta?
Image: Reuters/Stephane Mahe
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Americans continue to clock in far more hours than their European counterparts.

Europeans worked 19% fewer hours than US citizens, which correlates to about an hour less each weekday, a new working paper (pdf) shows.

American citizens work around 1353 hours per person per year. Switzerland shared similar working patterns, with an average worker putting in 1310 hours per year. In the 18 European countries studied, France and Italy were ranked the lowest, putting in 1007 and 960 hours, respectively.

Researchers compiled data from three different labor-force surveys—the European Labor Force Survey, the US Current Population Survey, and the German Microcensus—to paint a clearer, more comparable picture of the overall hours per person in each country. Researchers also factored in vacations, obtaining data on hours worked in a “non-vacation week”—a work week without a reduction in work time because of a vacation—and noted that “the higher number of vacation weeks in Europe is a significant driver of lower hours.”

Americans aren’t just working more; previous research has shown they’re more likely to be slogging away work on weekends or in the dead of night, known to researchers as “stranger hours.”

Meanwhile, in Europe, so-called “ghost workers” continue to make headlines. In Spain, a civil servant was about to receive a long-service award in 2010, when it was revealed he hadn’t been to the office for the past six years (or 14; no-one’s really sure).

In France, a civil servant received a salary of nearly €4,000 ($4,393) a month for 10 years—without actually doing a day’s work.