Longer Vacations Don’t Harm Economy, Say Studies

Courtesy of Bermuda Department of Tourism
A beach of smart people? Or lazy people?

Last week, voters in Switzerland said no to a referendum that would have given Swiss workers a mandatory two additional weeks of paid vacation per year, reports the AP. But don’t cry for the Swiss. They’ll still enjoy four weeks of paid vacation time.

In the rest of the European Union, it is legally required for employees to have 20 days of paid vacation each year, though many companies count national holidays toward that 20 day quota.

In comparison, workers in the US typically take only a dozen days off a year of paid vacation, according to a 2011 survey by Hotwire.

One in four US private-sector workers doesn’t receive any paid vacation at all. US workers who do receive vacation days often fail to take all of the days they’re entitled to. In fact, nearly half of workers don’t use all of their days, a recent Ipsos survey found.

Paid vacations may not harm economies. Ironically, some economists say there's no statistically significant proof that paid vacations lead to workers—or nations—to make less goods, services, and money, reports Time magazine.

Productivity per hour, and not total hours worked, seems to be a more important factor in determining which people and countries get rich. Workers in Germany and the Netherlands produce just as much work per hour as Americans do on average, even though they take four times as many paid-vacation days (six weeks, on average).

What about Greece, lately often criticized in the media? Well, the average Greek who is employed works more hours than workers in any other European Union country. But more than one in five Greeks is unemployed, leading to an impression that the country doesn’t work hard.

Why is America the “no vacation nation”?

Maybe it’s because we like working more than other countries do. Working makes Americans happier than it does for Europeans on average, according to a study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies and written by Adam Okulicz-Kozaryn, an assistant professor at the University of Texas at Dallas.

What do you think? Do the Europeans know something we don’t? Should we have more paid-vacation in the US? Can vacations restore one’s mind, body, and soul—leading to more productive efforts when people are back on the job?

Or should the US continue keep paid vacation time to a minimum, given that it makes us happy to work and given the growing competition from workers in countries like China, India and Brazil who almost never take vacation.


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