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A crane operator in 2008
German workers averaged 41.2 hours of work a week last yearImage: picture-alliance/ dpa

Teutonic efficiency

July 31, 2009

It's true, Germany really is the land of Teutonic efficiency and the Protestant work ethic. A new study shows that Germans work more than most Europeans.


The most workaholic country within the European Union is Romania, where workers worked an average of 41.8 hours a week in the third quarter of 2008.

Germans aren't far behind, clocking in 41.2 hours, according to the study released this week by Dublin-based Eurofound, an EU agency which tracks working conditions. France had the lowest average working hours in the EU, the average worker toiled away for only 38.4 hours a week.

"It confirms the image of German people being hard-working," Camilla Galli da Bino, a Eurofound information officer, told Deutsche Welle.

But Germans aren't actually compelled by law to work that hard. The statuatory working week averages 37.6 hours a week across eastern and western Germany. The extra hours are due to the 3.6 hours of overtime Germans clock a week. Only Czechs worked more overtime, squeezing in 3.7 hours a week.

East versus West

A supermarket cashier serves customers
Germans work more overtime than most other EuropeansImage: picture-alliance/dpa

The greatest split in working hours among EU members was between the newly admitted member states of eastern Europe, where workers averaged 41 hours a week, and the pre-enlargement EU15 members in Western Europe, who worked just 39.9 hours a week.

Of the EU15 members, only Austria beat out Germany for hours worked, and then by just 0.1 hours a week.

Despite their differences, Eurofound's Galli da Bino said all Europeans are likely to share one common attribute at the workplace thanks to the recession: stress.

"There is more pressure to work hard," she said, adding that Eurofound surveys show more stress and a faster pace at workplaces across Europe.

"There will be more pressure on people to show that they are more hard-working, to compete against other people," Galli da Bino said.

Even if work becomes more stressful, Germans have another advantage: The average German worker got 30 days of annual vacation in 2008, sharing second place with Denmark. First place went to social welfare paradise Sweden, where workers averaged 33 days of leave a year.

Author: Brett Neely
Editor: Sam Edmonds

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