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Surprise: Who works the most hours in Europe?

Surprise: Who works the most hours in Europe?
May 30th, 2012
02:04 PM ET

By Samuel Burke

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the average Greek employee works 2,017 hours per year, more than their counterparts in any other European country. The Dutch, on the other hand, work on average 1,377 hours per year – the least amount in all of Europe. Germans work 1,408 hours a year – the second least amount in Europe. Of course, working more hours doesn’t always equal more productivity. Even if Greeks are working many more hours than Germans, the OECD finds that the Netherlands and Germany are the most productive countries in Europe. After the jump, see the lists of the countries that work least hours, plus a list of the most and least productive countries.

Most hours worked for total employment:
1. Greece
2. Hungary
3. Poland
4. Estonia
5. Turkey
6. Czech Rep
7. Italy
8. Slovakia
9. Portugal
10. Iceland

Fewest hours worked for total employment:
1. Netherlands
2. Germany
3. Norway
4. France
5. Denmark
6. Ireland
7. Belgium
8. Austria
9. Luxembourg
10. Sweden

Most Productive:
1. Norway
2. Luxembourg
3. Ireland
4. Netherlands
5. Belgium
6. France
7. Germany
8. Denmark
9. Sweden
10. Austria

Least Productive:
1. Poland
2. Hungary
3. Estonia
4. Turkey
5. Czech Republic
6. Portugal
7. Greece
8. Slovak Republic
9. Slovenia
10. Iceland

Source: OECD as of May 30, 2012

soundoff (39 Responses)
  1. Szymon

    I guess we must observe different Europe. You rated whol eastern europe as least productive?
    It's amazing that best IT and technology people are from eastern europe. All those inventions came from those unproductive people?
    Whoever did that survey or summary rather, seems to be racist.

    May 30, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Reply
    • Andreas Stokas

      I have conducted consulting in east European countries and the OECD survey verifies my observations.
      Your opinion seems to be drawn by nationalist motives.

      May 30, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Reply
    • buehlerindutchland

      Just because (in your words) the best IT people come from eastern Europe, that doesn't mean that the rest of the workforce is as productive. Additionally, this survey was done by the OECD.

      May 30, 2012 at 6:44 pm | Reply
    • A

      Don't call anyone racist without proof or atleast some resonable arguments!

      May 30, 2012 at 9:02 pm | Reply
    • Piotr / Poland

      Szymon, relax 🙂 We are the least productive nation, because we have the lowest sales-per-employee ratio. It's nothing personal, it's simply the economic fact. It's not about working more, it's about working smarter.

      June 4, 2012 at 7:22 pm | Reply
    • Frank Jimmies

      is it racist that Greece can't support itself, too?

      June 27, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Reply
    • John

      'Productivity' in economics has less to do with how hard or well people work, and with how much people are paid in comparison to the sales-price of what they make or do - it doesn't really fit with the normal understanding of someone whose very productive (it's kind of stupid).

      As for Eastern Europeans - as a chef in Scotland I've worked with many, and they've usually been the ones who set the bar for hard-work and stamina. Unproductive is not the word!

      July 29, 2012 at 9:24 am | Reply
  2. Szymon

    Also, I guess, that whole productivity drove all those wonderful western european countries to have recession and huge debts. Well done survey. Congratulations!!!

    May 30, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Reply
    • Lars

      Cannot say that Norway has bad times. We are working 3rd least in Europe but are the most productive one......

      June 19, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Reply
  3. hammiemb

    A 40-hour work week equates to 2,080 hours worked/year. I am wondering if the 2,017 hours/year allows for statutory holidays and the like......comments?

    May 30, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Reply
  4. Andreas Stokas

    Facts from Greece:
    Most private sector employees work more than 40 hours / week and get less than 3 weeks holidays.
    Productivity is very low because:
    1. Greek public sector employes 10% of the population (about 20% of working people)
    2. Agriculture is based on subsidies, therefore has very low productivity.
    3. Private sector consist mostly on very small family owned businesses with no organization structure and methods.
    4. Beraucracy and complicated legal system decreases productivity since companies need to employ at least 3 times more accountants and other non-productive personnel to comply.
    On the other hand the average Greek employee is very well educated with strong initiative and inventiveness.

    May 30, 2012 at 5:08 pm | Reply
    • Szymon

      And majority of those well educated people don't pay taxes and that drove Greece to current situation.
      Same with Ireland and soon Spain.
      If we will measure productivity in cheating system and taxes + spending more moeny that people have in the pocket.. then well.. all those countries are very productive.

      May 30, 2012 at 5:32 pm | Reply
    • Hardinal

      Do you have data for Indonesia?

      June 11, 2012 at 8:49 pm | Reply

    the numbers,the quality.

    May 30, 2012 at 5:30 pm | Reply
  6. Izabela

    Poland is the least productive??? But Polisj people are such hard wokers! How embarrassing!
    I wonder what least productive actually means. (and don't state the obvious: least productive)

    May 30, 2012 at 7:19 pm | Reply
    • Szymon

      Productivity according to them means who can waste more money and in which country more people make their living off social money.

      May 31, 2012 at 5:04 am | Reply
  7. A

    We don't know how productivity is measusered here, Poland is the 3rd most working country (in hours) but the least productive. One reason could be that they have much time when they are employed but nothing happens, for example waiting for customers.

    May 30, 2012 at 9:08 pm | Reply
  8. polSc

    This is a statistic based on false facts and it's obvious that many mistakes have been made while creating it.
    It seems that they didn't have data from all countries, so what's the point anyway? Maybe the greeks work more hours on paper, but not in reality.

    May 31, 2012 at 2:59 am | Reply
  9. JvG

    There is nothing better than these heated comments which in fact miss completely the crucial point i.e. productivity in developed/developing countries. The first table relates to developed western democracies whilst the second is linked to new developing countries from mostly the eastern and southern part of Europe (except Iceland). You do not have to be a rocket science to see the disparity between these two parts and invoking an arguments that "best IT and technology people are from Eastern Europe" or Greeks are "very well educated with strong initiative and inventiveness" is irrelevant here. They might be the best but it does not mean they are not less productive because of the country they are living in and their system. Perhaps some bighead will realize after reading this blog that you could not build a stable and sustainable system in 5 minutes and it takes years to achieve what western countries did.

    May 31, 2012 at 6:19 am | Reply
  10. Ann

    It`s easy. Eastern Europeans people work more and harder, but their work is less paid and products are cheaper. Cost of making for example car is 2x bigger in western Europe, time to make the same, so eastern europeans must work 2x more to earn the same. It has nothing to do with skills, education etc., more with history and the lack of home grown rich concerns (communism legacy)

    May 31, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Reply
  11. jossan

    Greece Italy Spain Portugal need to deregulate. In order to increase growth these countires are a deep need of removing old rules for business. Of course the maffia in Italy and other hindrances will cry out large.

    June 3, 2012 at 4:27 am | Reply
    • Bjorn

      There is a big difference between the countries in northern and southern Europe. Jossan says correctly that that countries like Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal have to improve. Coming from Sweden and visiting those countries, I am always so surprised how inefficient the state buraucracy is working there. It really demands a lot of unncessary extra work time from private people and the companies. That lowers the productivity. And why do so few women work in some of these countries? It must also lower the level of living standard.

      June 9, 2012 at 4:14 am | Reply
  12. Leiv Erik Refsnes

    The lists shows us who has the ability to pay taxes, and who hasn`t.

    The survey tells us about which countries have the work ethic and which countries have the ability to spread the benefits.

    The fact that Greece is at the top of the list of countries that are working the most hours per year is a tragedy, they would surely have been Europe's richest, but the reality is quite different, Greece is on the bottom when it comes to social democratic values ​​and the ability to think about community and how dependent we are on each other

    June 11, 2012 at 1:23 am | Reply
  13. Lou

    The Dutch on average work less hours, I think this can be explainend because we have a pretty low uneployment rate and many (especially female employees with childeren) have part time jobs dragging down the average. In most companies (at least that I worked for) 40 to 50 hours a week is considered normal (and you can add 2 hours of travell to that).

    June 12, 2012 at 5:28 am | Reply
  14. Marion

    Maybe everyone just spends too much time arguing because they are all exhausted from working so hard?this does not list the type of work, however, I think what should be mentioned here that by not overworking people, makes them a little more productive?. More hours=more tired. Less hours=not as tired, stressed, pushed.

    June 26, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Reply
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    Good article,must learn something new everyday.

    July 24, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Reply
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