Thursday, May 13, 2010

About That Mediterranean Work Ethic

According to many accounts of the financial crisis in Europe, one reason intervention has been slow is that it is hard to convince Germans, widely seen by themselves and others as hard-working, thrifty and virtuous, to "bail out" those lazy, spendthrift Greeks.

This bit of OECD data on hours worked per worker (via Economix) runs contrary to the stereotypes:
That is, according to the OECD, the average Greek worker logs 2120 hours per year - 690 more than a German worker.


Anonymous said...

Perhaps the Greeks manipulated these statistics as well...

Anonymous said...

i think that if you add to this the avarage pay of greeks vs germans the deference is very big. i think the german people sould ask their politicians to tell them how many german companies are proven to paid
to coraped greek politician in greece
and to tell as their names becaouse their companies gane bilions of over
infleided contracts and made houge profits.
now they say that we sould be left alone to deal with this crisis i say they sould retourned all the many that they have took for bad contracts in this country
and we dont want their help.
we work at least us much as much as any other at least say somthing good about the people not the goverment.

best regards nikos alexiou

Anonymous said...

If you read the whole article by Econimix it writes:

"The shortest number of work hours were logged in the Netherlands, at 1,389 hours. In the Netherlands, it should be noted part-time work arrangements are very common, especially for women."

Alexander said...

Time is no measure of efficiency let alon productivity and thriftyness and isn't that what that work ethic paradigm is all about?

Phil Rothman said...

How about some discussion about productivity and unit labor costs?

Bill C said...

Thanks for the comments. You're right that there are plenty of caveats that one should keep in mind interpreting a statistic like this. But 2120 hours is equivalent to 53 40-hour workweeks! I hope that little tidbit of information will temper the moralistic tone that sometimes creeps into the policy debate on this issue.

Anonymous said...

It is a true and solid fact that Dutch and Germans are indeed lazy and willing to work as little as possible. Greeks work 24/7 and thats known to anyone been there and knowing how these people live. The rest is just cliches for cheap/populist German magazins. But the Greek state is corrupted and no hard working Greek can ever fight that one.

Anonymous said...

But is that productive German worker German or Turkish?

Anonymous said...

I am a Greek working for a German company. From my experience, these figures reflect the reality but when it comes to productivity, well, that's a whole different story!

Anonymous said...

Hi All,

I'm a Greek woman, working for a major Greek company the last 25 years. I had the opportunity to be working various times in other places (mainly US, several European, conferences/training/market visits/negotiations etc). May I certify that Greeks are a lot more productive even when working 8 hrs/days vs. our colleagues in US/EUR. The reason is profound ; we don't always have the means to make our lives easier so, we have to use our imagination in a fast pace and provide solutions to make things do.

It s the first time that I feel the urge to respond to what is written about us these last days.

FYI, my company is already undersold (after several attacks from other international companies) to a "foreign" company as it will soon happen to all basic strategic companies in my country (like water supply company, energy, etc).
You want to know the reasons ? To only get a quick idea, visit :

Regards, M.P.