‘New’ Europe Outworks ‘Old’

Workers in eastern Europe work more hours and take less vacation than their counterparts to the west.

German workers rank sixth in the EU in terms of hours worked -- and third in terms of vacation days.In a study published Wednesday by Dublin-based EU think tank Eurofound, official and reported work hours were compared across the EU. Europe’s hardest workers, at least in terms of hours spent on the job? Full-time workers in Romania and Bulgaria, the EU’s newest members, put in 41.7 hours a week. Germany ranked 6th, with workers reporting 41.1 hours a week spent at work.

The report, which analyzed statistical data from all of the EU member countries, found that the 15 pre-2004 members of the EU spend an average of 39. 5 hours a week on the job, while people in the 12 new member states work 40.6 hours on average. Of the top 10 countries, seven — Bulgaria, Romania, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia and Hungary — joined the EU after 2004.

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Vacation time also varies dramatically from country to country. Swedes have a generous 33 days per year of paid vacation, while Estonians get just 20. Germans rank high here, too — third on Eurofound’s list, with 30 days per year.

This is mostly a function of affluence, of course, but also an indication of culture.  It’s noteworthy, for example, that Estonians, who are at the bottom of the EU vacation scale, get twice the paid vacation time that Americans do.

It should be noted that the EU numbers aren’t just averages:  They’re government mandated minimums! And, no, the figures above do not include public holidays.  The U.S., of course, guarantees 0 days of paid vacation.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Cernig says:

    This is almost entirely a function of affluence. The hard right in old Europe has been yelling for a couple of years now about the new European immigrants, driven by poverty, who are “flooding” their countries and “taking all their jobs”.

    Regards, C

  2. […] Even Estonians get more vacation than Americans Old Europe outworks New, but the US outworks them all… […]

  3. Tlaloc says:

    This is mostly a function of affluence, of course, but also an indication of culture. It’s noteworthy, for example, that Estonians, who are at the bottom of the EU vacation scale, get twice the paid vacation time that Americans do.

    We’re number 133! We’re number 133!

    Doesn’t quite have the same ring, huh?