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Germans work less than southern Europeans, study says
Photo: DPA

Germans work less than southern Europeans, study says

Published: 05 Jun 2011 11:02 GMT+02:00
Updated: 05 Jun 2011 11:02 GMT+02:00

A statistics-based report published by French bank Natixis chief economist Patrick Artus said Germans worked less annually and during their lifetime than southern Europeans, and did not work more intensely than their neighbours, either.

The study, based on OECD and Eurostat figures, said a German's average annual work duration (1,390 hours) was substantially lower than for a Greek (2,119), an Italian (1,773) a Portuguese (1,719) and a Spaniard (1,654).

A French person works 1,554 hours per year, said the study. "Germany's productivity per head remains close to the average of southern European countries. Its hourly productivity rate is above average but not better than France or Greece," the study added.

Although the legal retirement age is older in Germany – currently 65 years set to rise to 67 – the Portuguese and Spanish work longer. Their real retirement ages are 62.6 and 62.3 respectively, against 62.2 for Germans.

The real retirement age for Greeks is 61.5, but that is expected to rise to 63.5 by 2015 following the government's austerity programme to raise the legal retirement age to 65 from 60.

Only the French (60 years) and the Italians (60.1) currently retire two years earlier on average than the Germans, the study also said.

Last month, Merkel hinted that southern Europeans take too much holiday and retire too early, sparking outrage across the continent.

"In countries such as Greece, Spain and Portugal, people should not retire earlier than in Germany. Everyone should make similar efforts a little bit more. It's important," she said.

Artus, the author of the Natixis report wrote: "Angela Merkel does not show the real problems of the southern countries of the eurozone."

Your comments about this article

11:37 June 5, 2011 by marimay
Way to put Anglea's hoof in her mouth.
12:06 June 5, 2011 by btomi
Well you can always calculate whatever you want. Although what Merkel said was incredibly insensitive and much too broad a statement.

On the other hand, productivity per hour or efficiency, is a different matter. Having worked in some of those countries, there is a world of difference.

Also depends if they counted all the extra days you get if you work for the government or the extra times/benefits. Along with other dubious practices.
12:10 June 5, 2011 by dcgi
You can work as long as you want and claim to be as productive as you want, but if the culture in the country is to lie & cheat your way to success whether that be its citizens not paying incoming tax fully, having phantom jobs or governments lying their way into the euro, it will all end up in disaster.
13:43 June 5, 2011 by harcourt
Thats no way to talk about the Germans !!
15:24 June 5, 2011 by Stgtt/DFW
These numbers aren't all that far off the mark... It's no wonder German work less than other countries... When doctors issue them 2 weeks "sick-leave" time for a cold. An illness that in other countries doesn't even warrant staying home a day or two... Sick leave times are in general much higher than in any other nation. Work mentality has changed...
18:08 June 5, 2011 by Dogs_Gonads
Hmm ,wonder who the hell they asked about these figures.

I work 17 shifts a month x 12 - 25 for holidays = 179 shifts

I get paid 11.75 hours a shift x 179 = 2130.25 hours a year worked.

I think I am being shafted.
18:38 June 5, 2011 by marimay
You probably are.
19:17 June 5, 2011 by MJMH
This is why the EU sucks. Who cares who works longer or shorter. Its the culture that makes a country prosperous not some statistic (real or false) . Europeans were told that the EU would be a win win situation for everyone. It isn't. And hopefully those in power will realize it. This is just another example. Greece will never be a player in Europe. That is the culture. Germany will never be a cheap tourist destination famous for food and a laid back lifestyle. That's what made Europe great, each country was different. If the EU gets its way all the uniqueness will be gone.
20:13 June 5, 2011 by Ami-In-DE
I am very skeptical at this reports findings. I am a 51 year old Greek-American, have been to Greece many, many times over the years visiting my relatives there, and oh yeah...I have been living the past 15 years...in Germany. I believe these statistics, just like any others, can be skewed any way one wants to to get a point across. I have been combing the Internet looking for the actual report--I want to see the details behind those numbers. Can anyone provide a link to that actual OECD report?
22:22 June 5, 2011 by tattooing18
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
09:47 June 6, 2011 by freerange
I did not think the Taliban took part in WW2. Even the Stern gang could not join on the side of Germany even though they believed that any enemy of the Brits was an ally of Zionism. Not sure that tatoos affect the brain?
10:00 June 6, 2011 by freechoice
The German laws mandate that one has to work at least 8 hours per day for 5 days around 40 hours per week.

There are 52 weeks in a year. total no of work days per year is 260 minus 10 public holidays (assume they fall on weekday) and minus 30 vacation days.

That is about 220 working days. which is about 220x 8 hours = 2,080 working hours per year!

How the heck they arrived at 1,380 hours per year?
10:50 June 6, 2011 by HistoryProffessor
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
11:29 June 6, 2011 by Deutschguy
The culture of Greece, where tax evasion and avoidance seems to be the norm, reminds me of New Orleans or most of south Louisiana. When the expectation is that every level of government is corrupt and tax dollars are taken for personal enrichment, then people who try to be responsible and pay their fair share are looked upon as naive suckers.

Government employment is its own can of worms, esp. in southern European countries, where family ties and personal connections trump merit and ability. However, in the US, UK, and France, the same parallels can be made in terms of family wealth, admission to top tier universities, and government appointed jobs.

Goldman Sachs should be sued for designing and issuing bond sales for Greece, including helping them lie to the EU about their qualifications for entry.
11:39 June 6, 2011 by trash head
> their people are rude and never want to help.

Stop whining.
11:55 June 6, 2011 by golfcricket
I know the figures of 1,390 hours of average work per year seem stunning, but if you wanna add in the average sick days a german takes, then "yes".. it's about right.. But again as "MJMH" stated.. Who cares.. it's ones culture and if it works for them then so be it.. It would never work in America.. Just saying!
14:23 June 6, 2011 by agarwaen
http://www.thelocal.de/35095#comment2408029
14:27 June 6, 2011 by ValP
.... was about to argue over the "sick leave" issue, but then thought of all these people with the e-coli infection......
15:28 June 6, 2011 by projethomere
Nous invitons de tout cœur Madame Merkel et à ceux qui soutiennent cette politique de venir travailler ici chez nous en Grèce sous nos même conditions ­ avec 591 Euros par mois, souvent sans vacances et ensuite on reparlera !!

D¦#39;autre part je rappelle à Madame Merkel que l¦#39;Allemagne doit de Seconde guerre mondiale 167 milliards d¦#39;Euros qu¦#39;elle n¦#39;a jamais remboursé alors que d¦#39;autres pays on été remboursé ­ Pourquoi les Grecs ne devraient pas l¦#39;être après tant de victimes et de destructions sur notre économie ! Aujourd¦#39;hui la Grèce est montrée du doigt alors que ca vrai dette est de 50 milliards le reste étant les taux usuriers même si la gestion économique de notre pays a malheureusement contribué a la situation actuelle ­ je rappelle cet extrait d¦#39;un journal Belge qui vous donnera les conclusions !

paru dans "LCR (Belgique)" sous la plume de Guy Van Sinoy montrant que l'histoire, décidément, n'en finit pas de repasser les plats.

"Déficit public, manipulations bancaires et manœuvres politiques

Fin 2009, le déficit public de la Grèce s'élevait à 112% du Produit intérieur brut (PIB), c'est-à-dire bien au-dessus des normes de Maastricht: les pays souhaitant participer à la zone euro doivent en effet maintenir leur déficit sous la barre des 3% et leur dette publique ne peut dépasser 60% du PIB. Bon nombre de pays sont cependant incapables de respecter ces normes. En 2009 la dette publique s'élevait à 95,7% en Belgique, à 81,5% en France et à 78,7% en Allemagne. Mais alors pourquoi cet acharnement vis-à-vis de la Grèce? Parce que les statistiques grecques ont tout simplement été truquées… avec la complicité de banques internationales!

En 2001, juste avant l'adhésion de la Grèce à la zone euro, la banque d'affaires américaine Goldman Sachs a aidé le gouvernement grec à dissimuler l'ampleur de la dette au moyen de produits financiers complexes. A l'époque, la Commission européenne ne pouvait ignorer cette manipulation, mais elle a tout simplement fermé les yeux car l'intégration de la Grèce à la zone euro était importante pour des raisons stratégiques et géopolitiques. A l'époque, la France (2ième fournisseur en armes de la Grèce) et l'Allemagne étaient les meilleurs avocats de la Grèce. Aujourd'hui la France et l'Allemagne possèdent 80% de la dette grecque.

L'austérité colossale imposée aujourd'hui à la population grecque est donc un remède de cheval imposé par les grandes puissances européennes pour garantir leurs intérêts."
15:50 June 6, 2011 by expatriarch
@dcgi - agree!

I have to say, it does not really reflect all that great upon "southern European" countries when they claim they work harder but are in a far deeper mess than any other countries. I guess there is some truth to "work smarter, not harder". The funny, inconvenient thing for US republicans (and which hasn't even been discussed here are at all as far as I can tell) is how pernicious the tax evasion, nay, tax fraud is in Greece and Italy. Only the dumb pay taxes in Greece, yet people demand all kinds of services and expenditures. That kind of mentality has been and seems to be getting more pervasive in the US too; demand all kinds of astronomical expenses, blame the problem on the pennies that are spent on positive/growth/advancement expenditures, and then refuse paying for what was already spent on your behalf and in your name. It's a recipe for disaster in the US, one way or another. Taxes will stall out the economy suffering from malnutrition, or the bond market will pull the plug on us for not paying. Either way, the wealthy have and are sucking all the nutrients our of the American economy; yet Americans don't understand that continuing a diet of double cheese burgers, fires, and soda will not make on healthy.
17:37 June 6, 2011 by marimay
@ History Proffessor

That has been my experience here as well. I will never take things like simple courtesy and "service with a smile" for granted in the states ever again.
20:08 June 6, 2011 by Jack Kerouac
I agree with MJMH (post#8) - Greece will never be a major player in the EU, and no matter how many ways they "calculate" these working hours, there are too many factors involved to be accurate enough to make a statement about it (like working longer but being less productive - how can one calculate that?). Germany has the largest eonomy in Europe - shouldn't that say more about who is working harder? Merkel wasn't disrespeting Greece, Spain, and Portugal - she was trying to motivate them since they are all eagerly seeking bailouts instead of implementing changing to their economic infrastructure or finding other domestic solutions. Giving them more money will only INCREASE their debt (since they will owe the EU that much more plus interest), and it won't force them to change their failing system, which is what needs to happen.
20:47 June 6, 2011 by marimay
Meh, Greece has been around forever, I don't think there is anything wrong with their system, but something wrong with trying to fit every country into the EU mold.

The EU wont last forever, unless the EU is truly willing to destroy countries til they fit in that mold in which case why would you want anything to do with it?

Greece should never have joined, they would have been better off.
22:25 June 6, 2011 by jamboree
I am not so sure about the comment that the Chancellor made. Perhaps she was hinting that with a tightening labour pool a few days less holiday may be needed to keep the local economy going.
23:00 June 6, 2011 by harcourt
I wasn't going to enter into this discussion again but I have to agree wholeheartedly with HistoryProffessor #13. I've lived in Germany for nearly 20 years and the characteristics pointed out by HistoryProffessor NEVER fail to amaze me !!
09:32 June 7, 2011 by HistoryProffessor
Harcourt and Marimay- This was my first stent living in this nation. I will be here for a total of three years. I have never been more thankful that one year of the three will be spent in a warzone. Atleast the people in the sandbox smile at you while they shoot. lol I have yet to see a smile come off a germans face. I cant wait to get moved to italy or south korea. Crap I would even take a tour in Antarctica before I came back here. However, I will say there is a lot of beauty to this country. Especially in Southern Bavaria near the Alps and a lot of the castles are very interesting. This a great great place. Location is perfect for travel and the sites in germany are solid like a said. But the people here leave a terrible taste in your mouth every time you speak to them. Its just unfriendly here. I dont know what it is or why it is that way. You would think they wouldnt forget that the only reason their not in poverty right now is because of the US and the Marshall plan. Maybe instead of acting discusted by us, maybe they could act a little grateful. Sorry I am ranting. I need to stop. Have a good day everyone.
10:48 June 7, 2011 by Zobirdie
@History Prof-

I am usually pretty supportive of americans on this board, but you have said some tremendously arrogant things. Yes. The Marshall plan helped germany a great deal, but I think without it, Germany would still be exactly where it is today. The war era generation are some of the hardest working people I know- I interview them for my work- and their stories of rebuilding their businesses and lives from nothing are impressive. Their work ethic was incredible.

While some Germans can be right Deutschbags, so can many Americans, Canadians, British be completely obnoxious as well. Service here isnt wonderful- tho sometimes it is- which stems from a non tipping culture- but if you want downright HORRIBLE service, go to Croatia!!! You wont complain about Germany again!!

Truthfully, I think your attitude may be part of the problem. How long should Germany be grateful to you/America? Its been 60 years since the Marshall Plan and Germany has paid all that money back. (And now their WWI debts are as well!) Do you expect the French to be grateful to America? They received almost 50% more than Germany and are the rudest people on the planet. Do you expect modern Britons to fall down on one knee? They received more than double of Germany.

Germans actually do smile- and when they do- it is entirely Genuine. I think you need to take the chip off your shoulder, accept this is a very different culture and give the people a chance.
11:10 June 7, 2011 by HistoryProffessor
Zobirdie- I came here extremely open minded and I will say I was a bit harsh towards the Germans. I have met some pretty awesome ones as well. I appreciate your response. I will say this. I dont just think this way because I am an @ss. An event or a series of events has created this attitude. That being said. I welcome any German to come a long and change my mind, I would love that. Because I want to enjoy my next years here. We will see what happens. It might also be because of the attitude the Germans have towards us here in Ansbach, its not the greatests. it might not be like this in the rest of Germany. Go to the US Choppers Whip Bavarians into Fury article and you can see some of the Hatred the locals here spew at us. Maybe you will see why I feel the way I do. I do hate the French by the way, they suck. Also Germany is a million times better than Czech Republic, the people there are a million times worse than Germans. I would say they almost rival the French.
11:57 June 7, 2011 by ChrisRea
It is interesting to see that when you are not able to understand a culture, you hate it. Even when there are many cultures you do not understand, it is still difficult to grasp that the problem might lie within yourself (it is still pretty improbable that all people but your nation suck). Of course your attitude and behaviour shows your belief. And then you wonder how come "the others" mirror your negative behaviour. Funny, isn't it?
12:11 June 7, 2011 by marimay
I've been living here for 5 years. My boyfriend is from Germany. Even he can't wait to leave again.

And, I shouldn't feel so overwhelmed with gratitude when I go back to the US and someone actually moves their shopping cart out of the way for me. LOL
12:11 June 7, 2011 by harcourt
I wish to dissociate myself from the remarks of HistoryProffesser having originally supporting his/her comments. When I see words like hate and of listing nationalities in order of de-merit is reverting tó the arguments in VERY junior playgrounds, if that!! We all have our likes and dislikes within different cultures but the sort of rant we saw is quite frankly the basis of many disputes/wars around the world. We are all on this fragile planet together and it is up to us all to work towards harmony and co-operation. I could go on but I think you have got the gist of my point !!
13:29 June 7, 2011 by Cayle
@HistoryProffessor ­ This is not the first thread where I¦#39;ve seen you make references to both the world wars and crappy service. I think I need to take some time to point out a couple of things.

1 - Unlike Anglo Saxons, Germans do not put on a cheerful demeanor for people outside their monkey sphere. It is not because they are dour; it is because they are a low context cultureThey consider ¦quot;putting on a show¦quot; to be dishonest. Conversely, I¦#39;ve seen many Germans talk among themselves about how shallow Americans are and the archetype story invariably involves meeting someone who is super friendly and practically tells the storyteller his/her life story and then the next day acts as if they¦#39;ve never met. That is because they don¦#39;t understand the importance that English speakers place on politeness and not being amicable is a social faux pas; that that the American in the story was being polite, not making a new friend. American culture is higher context than German, though we still fall well towards the low context end, when compared with East Asians, Arabs, Persians or Indians for example.

Take the time to get to know the Germans that you come in contact with. Once they warm up to you, you¦#39;ll find them remarkably like Americans in most respects.

2 ­ By default, you won¦#39;t get good service. The next time you are at the bakery, or wherever, start off with a smile and a joke. Germans don¦#39;t often do this themselves (less than Americans, but it is not unheard of), but respond to it.
14:08 June 7, 2011 by LecteurX
HistoryProffessor: "Germans are a rude and unfriendly lot and are not grateful, they suck"

Zobirdie: "No they don't, you're being arrogant, there are good and bad people in Germany, as anywhere else. The FRENCH, though, what a lot of rude jerks"

HistoryProffessor: "Oh yeah, the French, I HATE them, they're far worse than the German, and even worse than the Czechs, and that's saying something"

Zobirdie: "You're awesome mate".

- Facepalm -

Good that a few comments made some sense after that, really.
16:08 June 7, 2011 by HistoryProffessor
Cayle- you make a couple of valid points. I will keep them in mind when out and about. In addition I would also like to commend you for your ability to put forth information and an arguement without slandering me and or anyone else on here. Usually I try to post comments without being hateful. I saw your post on the helecopters, you appear to have a level head and willing to accept arguement. I commend you for that as well.

As for the rest of you, I do not HATE Germans, and I do not HATE the French. However, I do not neccisarily agree with their demeanor, politics or attitude. I encourage anyone who has an issue with my attitude or the american attitude to discuss if freely if they feel it is worth discussing. My ranting is a result of frustation that I personally have had in my small little portion of Germany, down here in Bavaria. I am sure the attitude here is not a relection of all of Germany or all of Europe for that matter. I understand the level of frustration europeans have with Americans. But what I dont understand is why when one American is considered arrogant, all of us become considered arrogant and they decide to treat us all with disrespect out in the community.
00:51 June 8, 2011 by EiPad
@HistoryProffessor

Consider that Germans normally refer as Mr/Ms to each other (using the lastname) whereas english speaking cultures prefer the use of the given name.

(There are whole manuals about the correct way to start/end a letter/mail to another party)

Therefore Germans probably appear rude and are certainly more distant and cold in their relationship towards others (we try to be at least somewhat polite about it). It takes some time to breach these walls and may not happen when staying distant may keep problems at bay (e.g. working with another party where it is certain that priorities will run crosswise at a later time)

Getting into a 'deeper' relationship (being more than simply polite but cold) means that there is somewhat of a dependency not only not to act agains the interest of one another but to actively promote the iterests of the other party.

So getting overly "friendly" with everyone you meet is simply dishonest from the german standpoint.

Back to Topic:

Germans take some 14 day sick-leave on average. And work on average probably some 1500 hours annually (it is plausible that we work less than e.g. people in greece since we do get cold winters and this lowers the average)

On the other hand, people in the south work in a place where others go for vacations. You can't be have it all.
10:48 June 9, 2011 by harcourt
I wasn't going to re-enter this discussion but I've just done a bit of local shopping here in sunny Germany. All one sees are, not just serious faces, but gloomy ones with scowls, if you catch a bit of their conversations they are always moaning. Do you ever hear them humming, whistling or singing that'll be the day !! Some will say it's in their culture, well all I can say if the Germans want to persuade us that deep down they are kind, gentle and friendly people - boy do they have an image problem !!
11:09 June 9, 2011 by marimay
Some culture.. no thanks.

I feel bad sometimes, because I want to like this place more than I do, I live here after all. I loved it at first, but i was seeing through rose-tinted glasses. I had wanted to come to Germany for most of my life, being part German myself.

So, I try really hard when I go out not to let things bother me but I am forced to notice the bad manners when people stand in your way of paying for things or dont say excuse me before grabbing something right in front of your face in an isle or running into you. I just dont get it, people shouldn't behave like farm animals. And of course, I do not often see anyone happy. I noticed an older man make a joke about a giant jar of nutella at metro to his wife, and she just rolled her eyes and kept looking angry while he was very amused by the giant size and i thought it was hilarious too, so at least he had someone to laugh with, poor guy. My boyfriend and I had pretty much made the same joke 5 minutes before. (he is from germany)

And for a place that loves pork so much, it is a shame they havent embraced american southern style bbq. I dont eat pork anymore and im not from the south but I do know its amazing.

I don't want anyone to bother arguing with me on this post, i just needed to vent, and i don't care if no one agrees with my perception. You can't sway me after 5 years living here.
13:07 June 9, 2011 by harcourt
Hi Marimay: I like you have tried so hard to come to terms with Germans and their "culture " like you, but after 20 yrs with a German wife, I just give up. Not in a hostile way but just that words fail me. As one ex-pat I used to know said Germany is a lovely country if it weren't for the German. Of course their attitude towards me has been if you feel that way why don't you f... off. But may I remind them of the words of the 15th century writer John Donne which starts " No man is an island....and ends.....ask not for whom the bell tolls it tolls for thee " Look it up - it applies very much to the Germans !!
23:26 June 9, 2011 by EiPad
with 19% VAT shopping isn't funny ;D
08:34 June 10, 2011 by harcourt
There's ALWAYS an excuse, isn't there !!
10:47 June 12, 2011 by Kanadierin
Wow! So much hostility in this thread. I'm Canadian and have been living in Germany for almost a year (and plan to stay for another 25 years, give or take) and I'm also married to a German. So far, I haven't had the negative experiences that I've been reading about here. Perhaps I've been lucky? Perhaps not. One of my fellow expats is ready to go back to Canada after 25 years because he feels that he has never been accepted as a German. That's the whole point. He tried to fit in. That never works. My philosophy is to NOT fit in. And so far, it's working. I'm appreciated by the Germans I know and it's mutual. I will always be 'the Canadian' and that's just fine by me. I stand out. And I like that!
11:42 June 12, 2011 by harcourt
Kanadierin : Your Philosophy is exactly the same as mine, although I did learn the language up to a point. I would contend that it takes a little bit longer than a year, it doesn't hit you immediately. In fact one notices all the plus sides of life in Germany initially. I would be very interested whether in 10-15 yrs.( not that I shall still be alive by then ) if you still feel the same way. However it might take far less time than that.
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