Edited by Kate Hutchings and Snejina Michailova
Chapter 9: Differences in working hours of European high status men and women: Causes and consequences
To date, much of the discussion surrounding the culture of long hours has focused on how different United States (US) workers are compared to their European and Japanese counterparts (see for example Prescott, 2004; Brett and Stroh, 2003). This is perfectly rational as the evidence on length of working years shows quite clearly that US workers work longer than their non-US counterparts (ILO Laborstat, 2010), in some cases substantially so, and tend to take less holiday time (ILO, 2001). For example, in 1994 French workers worked an average of 39.9 hours per week, Italians 39.5, UK 40.1 and Japanese 43.2. This compared to 41.0 in the US. By 2003 the equivalent figures were 39.6 for France, 38.3 for Italy, 39.6 for UK and 42.2 for Japan compared to 42.6 for the US. By 2008 this disparity had widened against all countries except the UK, with Italians now working only 34.6 hours per week on average. Thus, in all of these countries, except the US, the trend in working hours over the last 15 years has been downwards, typically by around an hour per week. Yet, in the US the trend had been initially upwards by a similar amount followed by a return to parity in 1994.
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