Monday, August 30, 2004

the Myth of Productivity

Interesting op-ed in today's LATimes:

Politicians and CEOs like to boast about the productivity of American workers. But here's the dirty little secret: U.S. productivity is No. 1 in the world when productivity is measured as gross domestic product per worker, but our lead vanishes when productivity is measured as GDP per hour worked, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, whose members are the world's 30 most developed nations.

Productivity per hour is higher in France, with the U.S. at about the same level as other advanced European economies. As it turns out, the U.S. "productivity advantage" is just another way of saying that we work more hours than workers in any other industrialized country except South Korea. Is that something to brag about?


Conventional economic theory argues that Americans prefer the higher income gained from working extra hours, while Europeans prefer more family time and leisure. This truth may hold supreme among economists (and business reporters), but study after sociological study contradicts it. Sociologists have long documented that many Americans (men especially) want more family or leisure time and would be willing to sacrifice up to a quarter of their salaries in return.

Much more at link.


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