Daily Archives: June 1, 2012

Some renewed interest in this perennial surprise fact, which apparently busts national stereotyping WIDE OPEN – the diligent Greeks work more (average 2109 hours/year) than the OECD average (1749 hours/year), second only to the South Koreans. And the idle Germans are among the lowest (1419 hours a year).

Amazing? Not really. These numbers clump together part-time and full-time workers, and Greece has proportionately more full-timers than part-timers (89.8%) compared with the OECD average (84.4%), which bumps up the number.

The thing is: a relatively small share of Greeks do paid work or look for it, particularly women, who are more likely to work part-time. Poking around the OECD database, it turns out that in 2007, before the crisis, 43.9% of the Greek population were in the labour force, against the G7 average of 50.3%. And they retire early: in 2007, 53.3% of Greeks aged 55-59 were employed, against the OECD average of 63.2%.

A better measure of labour supply is average hours per person of working age in the whole population. This chart is cribbed from an IMF report: data are from 2002, but the numbers underlying them haven’t changed much since then. Greece (GRC) is in the lower half. (BTW look at Germany almost at the bottom: Germany’s super-high labour productivity means they can work fewer hours and still be rich, the cunning fiends.)