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May 13, 2021

South Korea dwarfs Canada in hours worked per year

As a nation, Canada takes pride in its work ethic.

But how do we stack up against the world? Can we say, definitely or not, we work harder than everyone else?

Well, according to hours logged per year, Canadians actually work less than the global average, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

By the numbers, the average hours worked per year (within 33 surveyed, industrialized countries) was 1,764 in 2008. A “typical employed worker” in Canada, as the OECD puts in, worked only 1,727 hours in that same time period.

And, on average, this isn’t bad. That figure calculates to just over 35 hours per week, presuming each employee took two weeks vacation. That’s good for 19th out of 33 countries considered by the OECD.

By contrast, the average U.S. worker logged just under 36 hours a week, using those same parameters.

The country putting in the most hours each year? South Korea, where the typical employee works 2,256 hours a year – or, subtracting two weeks for annual vacation, 45 hours per week.

The nations that work the least are, in order, the Netherlands, Norway, Germany, France and Luxembourg, but it’s interesting to note which country works the second most hours behind South Korea.

Greece comes in at no. 2 on the OECD’s list, a placement that’s perhaps in contrast to what you’ve read about the country lately. In the midst of its need for a $146 billion bailout, the modern perception of Greece – however unfair – is that the nation hasn’t been working hard enough. This hasn’t seemed like a reasonable justification, and certainly the OECD’s numbers now show it is not.

Now, of course, these are figures from 2008, the year when the large majority of countries hadn’t yet felt the recession’s wrath. As employers tightened their workforces these past two years, these numbers could actually dip by the next time they are measured.

Where does Canada’s 2008 median of 35 hours worked per week sit with you? Are you working more hours each week now, or less?

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...