Saturday, July 09, 2005

All-American Vacations
Since Don's off on yet another vacation (since I don't know how hard he's been working, I don't know if I can call it "well-earned" or not), I thought I'd take the opportunity to talk about our vacation habits in the U.S. versus those in Europe. This has been a bit of a hot topic among various blogs over the past couple of weeks. Matt Yglesias started it off by citing a paper from the Harvard Institute of Economic Research, "Work and Leisure in the U.S. and Europe: Why so Different?" (abstract here). The main thrust is that Europeans have traded lower annual salaries for several more weeks of vacation. Kevin Drum jumped in, which prompted this response from an American living in Germany and enjoying his leisure. On his way out of town to start his own five-week vacation, Pascal Riche, Washington bureau chief for Libération, also weighed in. He pointed out that Americans work more hours each year than people in any other industrialized country: two months more than the Europeans, and even two or three weeks more than the stereotypically workaholic Japanese. He also mentions (citing this graph) that working Americans toil for 20 percent longer than we did in 1970 (while the French and Germans work 23.5 and 17.1 percent less, respectively).

So how do we feel about all work and not-so-much play (we've all seen The Shining; we know what that can lead to)? Who'd give up some of our consumerism for a little more leisure time?

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