Europe on Holiday

Currently, the average number of hours worked per person aged 15 to 25 each year in France and Germany is about 50% lower than in the United States. Other European countries (for example, Italy and Spain) fall somewhere between these poles. Although some Americans always like to boast about their superior work ethic, this disparity in working hours between the US and Europe has not always existed. Indeed, until the mid-1970's, the number of hours worked on either side of the Atlantic was roughly the same.

From the mid-1970's on, however, Americans continued working more or less the same number of hours, while Western Europeans began working less and less each year. If Western Europe needs an explanation as to why its rate of economic growth is lagging behind the US, it need look no further.

The average number of working hours per person depends on a variety of factors:

• the level of participation in the labor force;