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Germans - 'hardest working, most admired'

The Local · 29 May 2012, 12:15

Published: 29 May 2012 12:15 GMT+02:00

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Anti-German sentiment was largely contained to Greece – for the time being -- though other Europeans largely oppose the German-backed austerity measures to deal with the ongoing euro crisis.

The Pew Research Centre in Washington released its report, "European Unity on the Rocks," on Tuesday after surveying more than 9,100 respondents in eight European Union countries and the United States in March and April.

It found Greece to be increasingly isolated on the continent – alone in their economic misery and negativity towards Germany and Chancellor Angela Merkel..

She scored high marks in the survey, with 80 percent of German respondents saying she was doing a good job as economic manager - and a majority of those in all other EU countries apart from Greece, agreeing.

Only 14 percent of Greek respondents graded her positively, and 57 percent said she was doing a "very bad" job.

Nearly half or more of the respondents in Germany, Britain and France oppose their government providing bailouts to struggling EU neighbours.

Greece fared poorly in the study, with none of the other EU countries surveyed having a favourable view of the debt-ridden nation.

Germany is the only country where a growing majority of people believe that European integration has been an economic boon for them, and where a strong majority say that EU membership has been a good thing, according to the study.

The Greeks, on the other hand, are the most pessimistic about the future, with only nine percent expecting the economy to improve over the course of the next year.

Story continues below…

Germans also believe that they are better off than their parents' generation, with 70 percent saying their standard of living is better than their parents' at the same age. The Greeks, Spanish, Italians, and to a lesser extent, Americans, believe it will be "very difficult" for a young person in their country to get a good job and to become wealthier than his or her parents.

The Local/mbw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

14:23 May 29, 2012 by smart2012
I am surprised that merkel and sarkozy lost elections if this represents reality..... And a lot of people complaining against europe in Germany is just a dream??? Populistic article
14:47 May 29, 2012 by freechoice
Proverbs 10:4

New International Version (NIV)

4 Lazy hands make for poverty,

but diligent hands bring wealth.
15:35 May 29, 2012 by Bushdiver
I guess things have changed quite a bit since the mid 80's. I remember the Germans who held a position with the US Military. I say held position because many of them didn't work. They were either Krank, on Kur or on urlaub. This is no way implies that all Germans were lazy. There were also very many good German employees. I have been retired now for two years and have delt with hundreds of Germans throughout Germany and still say there were many more lazy German workers than those who actually cared about their work. Survey, studies etc don't mean anything in reality.
15:41 May 29, 2012 by smart2012
Was this survey done with son/daughters from dead soldiers, or east German parents or second generations from poor places? Ask middle German families eg doctors, dentists, shop owners, engineers, bar owners and u will have a different view. One example: my parents could retire at 60, I will have to work until 70
17:00 May 29, 2012 by reallybigdog

Germany is one of the largest exporters in the world with a population of only 80 plus million not to mention world leading trade surplus numbers. They are the go to country in Europe. Reality supports the survey more than it supports your biased and unfounded rubbish. They produce more solar power energy then all the rest of the world combined as well. Sounds like their pretty busy to the rest of the world!
18:17 May 29, 2012 by Peepopaapo
Well said, reallybigdog, but you forgot to mention that Germany is not only the world's second largest exporter and has the world largest trade surplus, but also the world's third largest importer right behind China and the U.S. and thus the largest importer in Europe. Furthermore the German economy is also the largest economy in Europe and according to the current worldwide competitiveness report the fourth most competitive economy in Europe right behind Switzerland, Sweden and Finland. Twelve of the twenty European "world's most admired companies" can be found in Germany. German companies belong to the largest or are the largest of its kind in Europe, for instance Volkswagen, Allianz, Munich Re and soon Sixt will become the largest car rental service.

@ smart2012: What's so bad about working until you are seventy years old? Of course there are some professions where working until that high age is just impossible, for instance craftsmen, but why souldn't a layer - for example - who is in a good physical and psychical condition and is fond of his work retire at the age of seventy?

It's just necessary and logical in a society where there are many old people, but only a few young people.

@ bushdiver: Of course there are also lazy people in Europe just like there are lazy people all over the world, but on average the Germans are hard working people otherwise the German economy would not be the fourth largest economy in the world.
18:38 May 29, 2012 by Englishted
Just a question to the Local or anyone who knows,

Why do you use a photo of Steffi Graf who now lives in Las Vegas ?.

P.S. I have lived and worked in three European countries and the work rate seemed very much the same to me.
19:00 May 29, 2012 by smart2012
@peepopaapo it is bot a question of being fit for working, the question is that when they will fire u when u are 60, then what will u do? Working with a temp agency???
19:13 May 29, 2012 by Peepopaapo
Smart2012, I know many layers, engineers and business economists who are beyond sixty and are still not fired because of the grand experience they have and the great feedback they can give to the enterprise they work for - this is especially the case with engineers.

When it comes to lowly qualified employees you may be right although it strongly depends on the field you are refering to.
19:46 May 29, 2012 by karldehm
Things don't get much better than they are in Germany now. If you are waiting for things to get better, you'll have a very long, long wait. Don't generalize! In fact there is a shortage of skilled labor in Germany with employers having to look abroad to fill the vacancies. Please note I said skilled labor. If you are an unskilled worker, it doesn't matter where you are, your chances of find a meaningful job are pretty low.

There is nothing wrong with working as long as you can, whether that is 65 or 70. In fact it is probably better for you than sitting on one's duff.
19:54 May 29, 2012 by smart2012
Peepopaapo, u did not get my point. Ask a 55 years old engineer being fired by siemens which job he will get.. Also, u mentioned 4 companies in your message, and out of them only one being a manufacturing company. This is the issue, manufacturing has moved away drastically from Europe since the 80's, that is where the concern is cause u do not need 1000 of managers, u need 1000 of workers. Example: I phone
20:55 May 29, 2012 by siba
smart2012: I know you just wanna see and just wanna hear what fits into your little box... Each single comment from you is predictable...

Sarkozy did lose the elections due to many reasons, but austerity - at least on a european level - was not reason. the same applies to Merkel's losses.

I am sure that most of those voters who voted for hollande or for kraft do not care about Greece or Europe, they just think about their own cup of tea. Most people in Europe want Merkel as long as austerity does not hit them personally.

However, Merkel has been in power for so many years and people will get tired of her like of anyone else who is too long in power. Change will come naturally...
22:24 May 29, 2012 by misterpocket
Whom did they ask? Very poorly surveyed, indeed.

I live in germany, and the mood is rather Anti-Euro (not anti-european!). Germany has been the biggest net payer in the EU from the start, and with mounting liabilities the tax payers would rather, their money were spent to fix crumbling German infrastructure, than "saving" banks and debt-ridden countries (actually, it's banks in either case). Anyway, with all the money spent, Germany is basically paying the bills for its own exports.

Pay cuts, health care cuts, no money for schools or kindergartens, and now talk of Wueo Bonds, to take over great shares of the entire EU debt... no, Germans are NOT thrilled.
22:25 May 29, 2012 by SchwabHallRocks
I don't know... after the thumping Lasicki got yesterday from Mattek-Sands at the French... Germans need to step up.
22:32 May 29, 2012 by NEUEVILLA
Apparently General Motors, regarding Opel, are of the same opinion as myself. I toured the Bochum factory shortly after it opened and noted that the efficiency was largely due to the modern machinery, much of it British, while the British motor industry could only afford to use ancient systems.

After 15 years in the British Army I got employment with a German computer company. After three months the owner, Heinz Nixdorf, gave me a cheque for an extra months pay, saying I produced twice as much as my German colleagues.

In another German company which I worked with as a consultant, usually till 6 or 7 pm, on several occasions I couldn't find a single manager after 4 pm.
00:14 May 30, 2012 by smart2012
Ehi siba, yen, am predictable, but all the propaganda blind news gong on are predictable too, and as they repeat themselves, i will repeat myself 2 :)

Please read this from Schulz, pretty in line with me

00:44 May 30, 2012 by raandy
I believe the Germans have a good work ethic, are responsible and diligent.

The part I find questionable is that they are admired, not my experience traveling the world, but as the famous play write wrote, "there is more to heaven and earth than in my mind"
06:38 May 30, 2012 by melbournite
This "survey" is part of the propaganda effort to say that the crisis is the fault of workers - whether they be in Greece or Germany or anywhere else - rather than the rich parasites who run the banks and the government. It also has the purpose of using nationalism to make workers in various countries argue among each other rather than uniting against our common enemy. The EU's rulers are terrified that that sentiment sweeping Greece, Spain and elsewhere will reach Germany.
10:17 May 30, 2012 by McM
This article seems to be in contradiction with the OECD survey of Eurozone members!
10:29 May 30, 2012 by AlexR
First, I find it, let's just say, "interesting" how the Local and other media have interpreted that survey. The view that "Europeans and Americans see Germans as the hardest-working in the continent" is clearly labeled on the survey as "stereotype". The Table 2 that shows the results has the title "Stereotyping in Europe". Full survey here:


Second, I also find it "interesting", that the Local and other media, are very eager and prompt to publish the results of a survey that reports the "stereotypes across Europe" while at the same time they not that eager to publish the real hard facts and decades-long data from the international organizations, like OECD and Eurostat. Is that because, the real data is completely the opposite that the "stereotypes"? According to OECD, the Greeks are the hardest working in Europe. The average annual hours per worker in Greece is more than 50% higher than Germany. Also, the Germans take more holiday, sickness leave and maternity leave - on average four weeks more than the Greeks. I wonder how many Germans are aware of that data. Full data here:


Third, I also find "interesting" the timing of that survey. It is released at the same time that the global media have started taken notice of the real OECD data and started publishing articles about that, revealing that the "hard-working Germans/North" vs. "the lazy Greeks/South" is nothing but a myth and blatant stereotyping.


17:57 May 30, 2012 by Sastry.M
Germans are considered as 'KIarmayogis' by most Indians because of their exemplary work ethics and law abiding nature. Among Europeans,in my opinion, their overall excellence is due to per capita performance in maintaining their acclaimed virtues as a common way of life.

However, if this advantage is only meant to maintain competitive Standards of Living applying vacation leaves of sight seeing self enjoyment and relishing grand parties, the Divine purpose is thwarted. The purpose should be directed to maintain Standard of Life commensurate with the gifted virtues applying for increased maternity leaves defending the purpose of Divine Grace in creating human beings.
23:47 May 30, 2012 by siba
AlexR: Also those statistics you refer to have NO value. The last lines of your cited articles are:

"But when all is said and done, Mr Marianna is keen to stress that all these numbers come with a health warning."They are collected by individual national statistics authorities who each have their own methods of collecting and collating information."

Sorry, but Greece has never been good with real transparancy. Their government gave the EU false data bout their financial situation, why would you believe them now. In addtion you should ask Greek people who left their country, most of them I met do not speak in best terms about Gree work ethiks...

However, actually it does not matter who works more or harder, it is all about how can we achieve to have a common wealthy society in all of Europe and in the rest of the world.
14:59 May 31, 2012 by Sayer
Maybe "longest working", but 'hardest'? Wander through any Landratsamt across the country and watch THAT theory get disproved right before your very eyes!
15:54 May 31, 2012 by schneebeck
"According to OECD, the Greeks are the hardest working in Europe. The average annual hours per worker in Greece is more than 50% higher than Germany."

Oh, I see,

IF: Greek worker works 8 hours

AND: German worker works 8 hours,

because they have worked an equal amount of time, this proves that they work equally hard.
17:35 May 31, 2012 by AlexR
@siba: "Also those statistics you refer to have NO value."

They have a great value since for some countries, including Greece, those statistics are NOT collected by individual national statistics authorities but by OECD itself. I always recommend not to take the media reports at face value but to look at the real sources of those reports, if available.

If you look at the the full report, published by OECD on their site (the link is on my previous post), you can easily see which sources are used for each country. For most of the countries, indeed the source is the individual national statistics authority, as Mr Marianna from OECD says. But for Greece and few other countries the source is the OECD itself (Read, Source: "OECD National Accounts questionnaire reply"). The Greek statistics authority has nothing to do with that, so your question if I should trust them or not, is irrelevant in this case.

@Sayer and @schneebeck:

Don't blame me about the confusion regarding "longest working" vs. "hardest working". This is exactly the title used by BBC and the survey mentioned on the Local, and I just used as a tongue-in-cheek to point out the confusion. There isn't any labour statistic with a "hard work" metric, the only reliable ones are the "working hours" and "work productivity". And usually, but not always, people/countries with the longest working hours are the least productive.

And rightly so, there isn't a "working hard" metric, because there isn't any clear definition of "hard work". For some is working longer hours, for others being more productive by working less hours, if you can afford that. And by "afford", I mean that people can only do the best with what they have. Here's a relevant example:

A road of 100 meters needs to be constructed. One man with a shovel will dig 1 cubic metre per hour. One man with an excavator will dig 10 cubic metres per hour. So, the first will finish the road in 100 hours while the second in 10 hours, or considering an 8 hour working day, the first will finish it in 12.5 days and the second in a little more than a day. Who is more productive? The second of course. Who is working the hardest? The man with the shovel will be far more tired going home, not to mention that he will be tired for 12 additional days than the second man.

Now replace the "shovel" with "bureaucracy, bad management, bad working conditions/compensation, inadequate infrastructure etc" and see how this applies to many other jobs as well.
06:00 June 1, 2012 by stablemate77
this is correct.....the germans not lazy bums of rest of world....sell somthing or grow it.....
06:03 June 1, 2012 by schneebeck
Oh, I see,

If I tried to do as little as possible in the work place each day and took advantage of other people in the world working hard to pick up my slack,

this wouldn't be due to any shortcoming of my own character,

it would be due to "bureaucracy, bad management, bad working conditions/compensation, and inadequate infrastructure".

I guess the Germans have good bureaucracy, management, working conditions, compensation and infrastructure.

How did they get that?
06:31 June 1, 2012 by stablemate77
schneebeck.....the germans got that threw a social system of 80mil people not 320 mil of usa.....sometimes you want to be the best at something.....and is result
08:14 June 1, 2012 by AlexR

I really don't understand what you are trying to say. I linked here (http://stats.oecd.org/Index.aspx?DataSetCode=ANHRS) the data about the labour productivity levels from OECD. The OECD datasets show statistical labour figures for more than 60 years (it started in 1950 with few countries and nowadays has stats from all of the 34 members of the OECD).

Based on that data, the top 3 countries with the longest annual working hours in 2010 are South Korea (2193 hours), Greece (2109) and Chile (2068). All three countries are very different geographically, culturally and economically. The bottom 3 countries with the fewest annual working hours are Norway (1414), Germany (1409) and the Netherlands (1377). Which means that on average, the people of the 3 top countries have worked 50% more hours than the people of the bottom 3 countries.

Do you dispute those data gathered for more than 60 years by some of the best economists and statisticians of the field? Then write your complaints to OECD, not me, and show what you think is the correct data.

Or better, move for work in South Korea, Greece or Chile, make your own experiences and prove OECD wrong. Like I did. Even if I worked for most of the time in Germany, I have also worked in France, UK and Greece and I'm well aware of their working conditions. Based on that experience, I am very well in a position to say that the notion "Lazy Greeks vs. hard working Germans" is just a myth based on generalizations, stereotyping and ignorance.
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