NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


July 14, 2004

Americans have grown richer than citizens in other industrialized countries because they are working more, according to a new report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). While higher productivity is also a factor, the report stresses the number of hours worked by Americans is more important:

  • Between 1970 and 2002, annual hours worked per capita rose by 20 percent in the United States, the most among developed nations.
  • By comparison, annual work hours declined by 17 percent in Japan and 24 percent in France.
  • Canadians have seen their annual work hours increase by about as much as the United States over this period (about 17 percent).

The increase in how much Americans work is in part due to the proportion of working-age Americans that work: in 2003, about 71 percent worked as compared an OECD average of 65 percent.

Also, among Americans who have jobs, the number of hours worked per year has remained relatively high. In 2003, Americans worked an average of 34.5 hours per week, whereas employees in such countries as France and Germany worked less than 28 hours per week on average.

Source: Greg Ip, "U.S. Wealth Tied More to Work than Productivity, Report Says," Wall Street Journal, July 8, 2004; based upon, "OECD Employment Outlook 2004," July 7, 2004.

For WSJ text (subscription required),,SB108924985484258191-search,00.html

For study text,2340,en_2649_201185_31935102_1_1_1_1,00.html


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