Europe - le piège du temps libre

Aux Etats-Unis, le “ vendredi noir ” est traditionnellement le lendemain de Thanksgiving , qui marque le début des achats pour les fêtes de fin d’années. Dès l’aube, les Américains font la queue devant les grands magasins pour profiter des promotions spéciales “ lève-tôt ”. Sur le Vieux continent en revanche, des records de circulation sont atteints le “ samedi noir ”, le dernier week-end de juillet, lorsque des hordes de Français et d’autres Européens se lancent sur les autoroutes des vacances, vers la Méditerranée.

Cette anecdote illustre bien les différents modes de vie des deux côtés de l’Atlantique. Les Américains travaillent plus et ont moins de vacances, mais ils ont davantage d’argent à dépenser. Non seulement la population active est plus importante aux Etats-Unis qu’en Europe, mais elle travaille aussi plus d’heures dans la semaine et plus de semaines dans l’année. C’est ainsi qu’en 2004, les Français ont travaillé 28 % - les Allemands et les Néerlandais 25 % - d’heures en moins que les Américains. En contrepartie, ils ont gagné moins d’argent, dans la même proportion, soit un revenu inférieur de presque 30 %.

Si l’on en croit l’économiste du MIT Olivier Blanchard, les Européens apprécient tout simplement les loisirs plus que les Américains, ils sont prêts pour cela à gagner moins, et c’est cette attitude différente qui explique les écarts de revenus entre l’Europe et les Etats-Unis.

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