Thursday, August 12, 2004

Overworked Americans

It's August and Niall Ferguson chimes in on why Europeans work less than Americans. "In 1999, according to the OECD, the average American in employment worked just under 2,000 hours a year (1,976). The average German worked just 1,535 -- fully 22% less. According to a recent U.S. study, the average Frenchman works a staggering 32% less."

I had recently referred to a selection of letters to the editor printed in the NY Times where the common (and predictable) refrain was that we have so much to learn from those Europeans.

Ferguson notes that the differences in work hours did not exist 25 years ago. He warms up Max Weber and concludes that, "the most remarkable thing about the transatlantic divergence in working patterns is that it has coincided almost exactly with a comparable divergence in religiosity, both in terms of observance and belief."

Perhaps. David Brooks evokes Americans' "future mindedness". They have come to expect that they can define and achieve their destiny -- and that it is within their grasp. He calls this their "nobility syndrome". This may dovetail with the religiosity that Ferguson alludes to.

It is certainly a more fascinating discussion than the left's vision of wage slaves, beguiled and indentured ("targeted" is often the favored descriptor) by all the diabolical consumerist (must remember "corporate") propaganda.