Greeks work the most hours in Europe

Greeks work the most hours in Europe

In an indictment of the economic model followed in the country, Eurostat data for 2023 show that Greeks work more hours than anyone else in Europe, and get even lower wages than at the beginning of the country’s financial crisis.

What’s more, labor productivity is roughly one third lower than the average of Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development member-states, while the Greek economy is well below the middle in the global competitiveness rankings.

If anything, the figures for 2023 published on Thursday show that not much has changed despite the lessons of the 10-year economic crisis.

The data also demonstrate that several of the recommendations made in the famous Pissarides report have yet to be implemented. 

More specifically, workers in Greece aged 20-64 work 39.9 hours a week for their main job, more than any other country in the EU.

Similar levels are recorded in Romania, Poland and Bulgaria. The country where workers work the fewest hours per week is the Netherlands (32.2 hours), followed by Austria (33.6 hours) and Germany (34 hours). The EU average is 36.1 hours. There is also a disparity with countries whose economies are often compared to Greece.

In Portugal, for instance, which also recently experienced a financial crisis and joined the EU after Greece, the average working hours per week are 37.7, while in Belgium the average is 34.9.

People also work fewer hours on average in other countries of the European South – Spain (36.4), Italy (36.1) and Cyprus (38.5).

Meanwhile, labor productivity is stuck at the levels of the memorandum years and much lower compared to the eurozone and the average of the OECD member-countries. According to the latest available data from the international organization, labor productivity, measured in terms of GDP per hour worked, was $34.5 in 2022 in Greece, the same level as in 2015, compared to $53.8 in the OECD – i.e. it was at 64.1% of the OECD’s.

Both at the eurozone and OECD level, labor productivity has improved quite significantly compared to 2015, a trend that unfortunately has not been observed in Greece.

Also, the fact that Greeks work more does not translate into better remunerations. Due to the internal devaluation that occurred during the crisis years, full-time workers’ yearly incomes in 2022 were the fifth-lowest in the EU, 4.02% lower than in 2013. 

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