Labor Productivity

The International Labor Organization has issued a report about key indicators of the labor market around the world. I was interested in seeing the productivity numbers as well as hours worked. Here is the data for the top 10 countries with the highest output per hour worked.

Country Output per person Hours worked Output per hour
Norway 51,155 1,342 38.11
France 52,444 1,545 35.28
Belgium 54,338 1,559 34.36
United States 60,728 1,815 32.43
Netherlands 42,788 1,340 32.31
Ireland 52,486 1,668 31.38
Denmark 45,531 1,499 30.25
Austria 44,888 1,518 29.56
Germany 42,463 1,444 29.40
Italy 46,509 1,619 28.74

Now, I have taken only one undergrad economics course, so I don’t have any profound comments on this like Brad or Max, but I must say I am more interested in the productivity per hour measure. I am a lazy man and rate leisure and life outside of work highly. Therefore, a high productivity per hour and a low number of hours spent working are important to me. This does show to me that Americans in general work a lot more than Europeans. However, it seems that Koreans take the cake. They work 2,447 hours a year, and that’s down from about 2,740 hours a few years ago.

I also have a question for anyone who knows economics more than I do. Everyone I know in the I.T. and other hitech fields works 50-60 hours a week but doesn’t get any overtime. Do they count as 40-hour work-week for calculation of productivity numbers?

Categorized as Economy

By Zack

Dad, gadget guy, bookworm, political animal, global nomad, cyclist, hiker, tennis player, photographer


  1. Well neither myself a student of economics nor do I know much, though I do have interest to know dynamic economics and some of the ground breaking theories behind it. And after
    reading a lil bit of Keynes, I
    changed Times and Newsweek to Fortune and Business Week. What a sharp decision hai na 😉
    and your idea of High productivity sounds good with comparsiison to short hours of working. and what about long hours of work and less or no productivity. OK, you needn’t name it Pakistan.:) I haven’t read the report yet, however, I feel koreans and japanese should be ahead of Americans.
    And,you didn’t join SIGGRAPH? you could give it a try, which would be cool, I think. You might have seen this year’s Fog screen, which is, by any means, super cool.
    See ya bloggin’ more. All the best.

  2. Ejaz: Both Korea and Japan have lower economic output per person (as well as per hour) than the US. The Japanese work about the same hours as Americans but Koreans work a lot more.

    SIGGRAPH is mostly about graphics while my research interest is in machine vision, which don’t match very well with SIGGRAPH. I heard of the fog screen. Interesting concept.

  3. machine vision? ahemm A.I mania? then I should highly recommend or humbly request adding in computing category as well. Where we can see your interests, links and resources. Though haven’t read anything of the sort lately. The last thing I had was June’s Communications of ACM article on Natural language processing systems and constraints of A.I. So when are we going to see computing, tech or plain Machinelogic or vision on your site:)?

    P.S thanks for correcting and reporting the data about koreans and japanese.

  4. Well I am not doing anything spectacular.

    I don’t usually blog about CS/EE topics for two reasons. One, this is what I do all the time and blogging is a release and a break from that. Two, it is difficult to make it interesting for the layperson and be accurate as well. Most media stories about science are junk. So translating extremely technical stuff into normal language as well as making it interesting requires a lot of effort.

Comments are closed.