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Where in the World Do People Work the Least?

Have you ever wondered where in the world people work the least?

Data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) for 2020 showed how many hours a week people in different countries usually work. The data included 35 of the 38 OECD member nations, but there was no information on the usual working weeks in Canada, South Korea or Japan.

According to this data, the Netherlands has the shortest usual working week in the OECD, with the average employee working 29.5 hours a week.

The second shortest work week is in Denmark, with 32.5 working hours, followed by Norway with 33.6, Switzerland with 34.6, and Austria, Belgium and Italy with average working weeks of 35.5 hours.

The longest working week in the OECD is in Colombia, with employees usually working 47.6 hours. This is followed by Turkey with 45.6 hours and Mexico with 44.7.

However, the results change when looking at the number of hours actually worked over the entire year. According to OECD data, it was people in Germany who actually worked the least hours in 2020 — 1,332 in total, giving an average of just 25.6 hours each week.

Measuring in this way, people in Denmark worked the second least hours, while British people worked third least.

Working hours in the world's richest countries have decreased significantly in the last 150 years. For example, in 1870, people in places like the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark used to work 60-70 hour weeks — and even 72 hours a week in Belgium. These numbers have now been roughly halved.


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