It is vacation season here in Europe. The workers have walked off the job across the road. They were replacing the roof of a 17th-century cottage. But when August came, they put a piece of plastic over the unfinished section and left.
The roads are crowded with people on vacation. Driving can be annoying this time of year. Typically, a car with two bicycles strapped on the back is followed by two cars towing small holiday trailers, followed by a slow-moving delivery truck.
And don’t bother to try to get anything done. Call an office; nobody answers the phone. Look for a plumber…a pastry-maker? Wait until September.
But it is a myth that Europeans don’t work hard. We noticed in our office in Paris that people seem to get about as much done – or maybe even more – than they do in the United States. And even though Europeans don’t put in as much time on the job, they actually work about the same number of hours, says a report in Fortune Magazine.
Germans and Americans work about the same amount of time, says Fortune. The difference is that America has a huge service industry – hamburger flippers, baby-sitters, pet groomers, retailers – doing things that Germans do for themselves – at home. America’s service industry is also largely responsible for the nation’s low wages. In Europe, there are few low wage jobs, higher rates of unemployment, higher earnings for those who do work, and much longer vacations.
for Markets and Money