La trampa del ocio en Europa

El "viernes negro" en los Estados unidos es, tradicionalmente, el día siguiente al de Acción de Gracias, que señala el comienzo de la temporada de rebajas durante las fiestas navideñas. Al amanecer, la gente hace cola delante de los grandes almacenes para conseguir las gangas especiales del madrugador. En Europa, el "sábado negro" corresponde al último fin de semana del mes de julio, cuando los franceses y otros europeos salen en manada para sus destinos mediterráneos de vacaciones y se producen embotellamientos de tráfico en las carreteras.

Ese contraste podría servir de metáfora sobre la diferencia en los estilos de vida a cada lado del Atlántico. Los americanos trabajan más horas a la semana y tienen menos días de vacaciones, pero disponen de más dinero para gastar. No sólo trabaja un porcentaje mayor de americanos adultos, sino que, además, trabajan más horas a la semana y más semanas al año. En 2004, los franceses trabajaron el 28 por ciento menos de horas por persona que los americanos y los alemanes y los holandeses el 25 por ciento menos, por lo que ganaron menos dinero: casi el 30 por ciento menos de ingresos por persona que los americanos.

Según el economista Olivier Blanchard, del Instituto Tecnológico de Massachusets, los europeos disfrutan más, sencillamente, del ocio que los americanos, aun cuando por esa razón dispongan de menos dinero. En su opinión, esa diferencia de actitud explica el desfase de rentas entre Europa y los Estados Unidos.

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