August 20, 2006


Take a holiday, companies tell worried American workaholics (Harry Mount, 21/08/2006, Daily Telegraph)

Americans, who are already the hardest workers in the Western world, are taking fewer holidays than they have done for almost 30 years, a survey says. [...]

The attitude of the Americans, who take an average of just 16 annual holiday days, including public holidays, differs greatly with that of some European nations. The Italians, for instance, take an average of 42 days, while the Germans take 35 days. The average in Britain is 28 days and the French take 37 days.

Is it any wonder that folks who want to work hard come here by the millions?

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 20, 2006 10:28 PM

Is this an apples to orange comparison? Most US companies have about 10 holidays and then give a few weeks vacation so total days off are around 20-30 days.

That said I don't disagree with the article's conclusion.

Posted by: AWW at August 20, 2006 11:18 PM

If you have 37-41 days off and you're actually doing something besides staying around the house watching TV, given European wage rates, about the only way you can actually afford all those days of fun and play is if you don't have anything else to spend your money on, like children.

Of course, if you're in Europe, odds are you're looking at it the other way around, where having kids would take away money that to be put towards those 7-8 full weeks of vacation.

Posted by: John at August 21, 2006 1:40 AM

It's all a matter of taste. I find nothing inherently wrong with working only 200 days a year - if one is willing to live on 200 days' worth of production.

That's where most European societies fail the test. They want both a lot of leisure time, and a high standard of living - job security, "free" healthcare, early retirement with generous pensions. There is one way to get all of that, by being extremely productive, but very few Euro nations have managed to thread that needle.

Well, America hasn't either, so I guess that I can't be too harsh with the Eurozone, but IMO it's clearly better to be a harried ant than a carefree grasshopper, despite there being drawbacks to both approaches.

Posted by: Abner Hathaway at August 21, 2006 6:50 AM

Besides, we have an empire to support. Carrier battle groups and amphibious task forces aren't cheap.

Posted by: Lou Gots at August 21, 2006 7:32 AM

If we're going to be speaking of carrier battle groups in a thread about lazy Europeans, then that's the perfect juxtapositioning for a reprint of this comment that I wrote in the October 3d, 2004 "Eurover" thread:

This year New York's Museum of Modern Art loaned Berlin's New National Gallery some priceless pieces, including some Van Gogh, Matisse, and Monet. The exhibit ran from Feb. through Sep. The German people spent over 6 million hours waiting in a line which often stretched for over half a mile.

Now, art is important to the human soul, but if the Germans had matched their time spent waiting in line with an equal number of additional hours at work, they could have made about 300,000 more VWs and BMWs to sell to Americans and the Chinese, or five Type 209 diesel-electric submarines to sell to India, South Korea, or Taiwan, or a complete aircraft carrier battle group, to boost Germany's presence on the world stage.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at October 4, 2004 05:38 AM

Art appreciation without martial preparation is hedonism.
Or, to be less strident, at the very least they ought to bank a surplus from overproduction before slacking off. The Germans are behaving exactly like a ne'er-do-well taking a vacation with the rent money.

Not that they're the only ones doing so, they'll have plenty of company in their future misery.

Posted by: Abner Hathaway at August 21, 2006 9:15 AM

Nor useful.

Posted by: oj at August 21, 2006 9:37 AM

Carrier battle groups are not useful?

Posted by: h-man at August 21, 2006 10:41 AM