Fortune / CNN Money.com have an interesting piece: Are Americans too lazy? U.S. workers can't compete globally unless they work harder, writes Fortune's Geoff Colvin.
The surprising report of our relative sloth arrives in new research from the UN's International Labor Organization, which looks at working hours around the world. When it comes to what we might call hard work, meaning the proportion of workers who put in more than 48 hours a week, America is near the bottom of the heap. About 18% of our employed people work that much.
We have increased our leisure time enormously over the past 40 years -- so much so that it "corresponds roughly to an additional five to ten weeks of vacation a year," says a study by Mark Aguiar of the Boston Fed and Erik Hurst of the University of Chicago business school, who conducted the study.
People with jobs are working fewer hours. Compounding the effect, fewer of us work at all, with growing numbers of people spending more time in retirement.
Of course, there's more to work than what we do on the job; there's also the work we do at home, and that too has fallen drastically. (It has fallen on average; men are actually doing a bit more work at home than they used to, but women are doing much less.)
Put it all together, and the researchers figure we're getting about 117 hours of leisure per week (including sleep), vs. 110 hours in 1965. That's more than 360 additional idle hours per year. We are a couch-potato nation.
Read the entire story (CNN.com)
If these data are accurate and the analysis is sound (e.g., it doesn't conflate the growing retired population with those of a working age who simply choose not to work), then it speaks directly to those who decry the growing wealth gap in this country (the populations at the top and bottom of the income scale are growing while the middle shrinks). I'm all for social equity, inalienable rights, and equal opportunity for everyone to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, but I'm also of the opinion that rewards tend to be the fruits of one's effort, not simply one's existence.