Deloitte Monday Briefing: Who Are Europe’s Hardest Workers?

* According to an opinion poll carried out by the PEW Foundation earlier this year people in the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the Czech Republic and Poland believe the Germans are Europe's hardest workers.

* The dissenting voice came from Greece, where people think that Greeks work the hardest.

* The Greeks are, in fact, right. The average Greeks worker puts in 2034 hours per year, the longest in Europe. Only Koreans and Mexicans work longer among the 35 countries surveyed by the OECD.

* German's work 1393 hours a year, 28% fewer than the Greeks. Only the Dutch work less.

* So why do people think that Germany is a nation of hard workers when it's the Greeks who put in the longest hours?

* The answer sheds light on what it is that makes nations rich.

* National income depends on productivity and the size and quality of the labour force.

* Productivity measures the efficiency with which resources are used. Germany is streets in this respect. It takes a Greek worker one hour and 41 minutes to produce what a German makes in an hour.

* Productivity is the basic driver of prosperity; raising levels of productivity is the holy grail of economic policy. Doing so is a complex, uncertain and long term venture. Productivity is influenced by a vast range of factors, everything from education, to technology, the quality of public institutions and infrastructure. * Even the structure of Greece's economy operates to depress productivity. A relatively high proportion of Greeks work in tourism or agriculture, sectors which are labour intensive but tend not to produce high levels of output per hour worked. * By contrast, richer countries have a greater presence in high productivity sectors such as manufacturing, finance, technology and business services. * Workers in rich countries tend to work fewer hours each year than workers in poorer countries. The causation on this probably works in both directions. As incomes rise people tend to trade pay for leisure time. And workers who avoid long hours are probably also more productive when they are at work. * The US is the conspicuous exception to this rule. In America productivity is high and people put in long hours. This may reflect the fact that, since the 1970s, rising levels of US GDP have not improved real incomes for a large proportion of people on middle and lower incomes - Middle America works hard because incomes are not rising. * An additional factor affecting GDP across economies is the level of...

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