This chart illustrates what many will find to be counter-intuitive. The most recent data from the OECD covers 2008 and shows that in that year, Greek workers on average worked 48% more than their industrious German neighbors. The OECD data shows the average Greek worker spent 2120 hours at work compared with 1429 hours in Germany. Moreover, Greece is one of the only OECD countries in which workers were working longer in 2008 than in 1998. With 1802 hours at work, the average Italian employee spent more than 25% more time at work than the average German worker.
While many will be initially surprised by the data, on reflection it makes intuitive sense. In crude terms, wealthier countries typically work smarter-more capital intensively-than poor countries, not longer. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the lack of Greek competitiveness, for example, does not seem to lie in hours working but with the combination of productivity and wages/benefits (unit labor costs).
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