Norwegian workers work a lot

Bookmark and Share

Most Norwegians enjoy relatively short workdays, at least five paid weeks of holiday a year and generous provisions for paid leave because of illness, family issues or professional training and education. Nonetheless, a new survey shows they’re among those working more than most of their counterparts in Europe.

The new survey was conducted in Denmark by the research group Rockwood Fondens Forskningsenhed, and measured the portion of European countries’ populations that’s working. Norwegians ranked fourth in all of Europe, working an average of 3.3 hours every single day of the year. Belgians and Germans, rather surprisingly, ranked near the bottom of the survey.

Shattering stereotypes
Oslo newspaper Dagsavisen reported that the Rockwool researchers measured the number of actual hours worked in the various countries by all persons aged 20 to 74. The hours included overtime, weekend work and work travel, for example, offset by time off for vacations, funeral leave, sick leave and other factors that reduce time on the job. They then measured total numbers of hours worked divided over 365 days in the year.

Norwegians emerged as far from the privileged, even lazy, workers that often stereotypes the country’s workforce, reported Dagsavisen this week.

Kristine Nergaard of the Norwegian research organzation Fafo, said Norway’s high ranking reflects the high level of total participation in the workforce in Norway. Few women, for example, stay at home in Norway, and Norway also has a relatively high level of seniors in the workforce who remain on the job well beyond the age of 55.

“And we have a low unemployment rate, which also means there are more people working in Norway than in other countries,” Nergaard said.

Baltic countries ranked highest
Latvians, Lithuanians and Estonians topped the survey, with Latvians, for example, working an average of 4.1 hours every single day of the year. Nergaard told Dagsavisen that the Baltic countries’ high rankings may reflect sheer economic need to work long days, possibly because of relatively low wages.

The Finns and the Danes worked an average 3.1 hours a day, spread over a full year, while no data was provided for Swedes.

Germans worked just 2.6 hours and Belgians 2.4, with the low level for Germany surprising even those compiling the survey. “Only the fewest can doubt that Germany is Europe’s economic locomotive,” they wrote. “Therefore it’s perhaps surprising that the Germans overall are among Europeans working the least, when we look at actual time spent on the job.”

To read their own report on the survey, and see how countries ranked, read the newsletter of Rockwool Fondens Forskningsenhed here (external link, in Danish).

Southern Europeans emerged as working more than both the Danes and the Finns. “Everyone knows that those in warm European countries take a long midday break, and idea that they don’t work so much is widespread in the north,” the researchers wrote. In fact, they note, that’s not true, as many Spaniards, for example, work late into the evening.

Nergaard noted that Norwegian politicians have had a goal of getting more Norwegians into the workforce, not least as part of pension reform policies. “The reason we rank so high is that we now have many on the job, also well into their 60s, and that’s positive for the country’s economy,” she said.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

Please support our news service. Readers in Norway can use our donor account. Our international readers can click on our “Donate” button: