The duration of the workweek varies widely by sector and region. The typical workweek might vary from less than 40 hours to close to 50 hours throughout the globe, depending on the country. Shorter workweeks and more vacation days are common in nations with a strong focus on work/life balance and enough family time.
More generous overtime pay, more worker-friendly rules and maternity leave policies, and a higher possibility of making the list of the world’s happiest nations are all trends that these countries exhibit.
These nations have lower overall happiness and lower levels of life satisfaction than countries with shorter work weeks, fewer safeguards for workers, or fewer facilities.
Penn World Table, 2019 data shows the 10 countries with the world’s longest workweeks (in hours)
- Cambodia — 47.6
- Myanmar — 47.1
- Bangladesh — 46.5
- Singapore — 44.8
- Malaysia — 42.3
- South Africa — 42.1
- China — 41.7
- Philippines — 41.7
- Hong Kong (China SAR) — 41.3
- Dominican Republic — 41.2
Table of Contents
Average Workweek by Country
Because different cultures have different ideas about what constitutes “work” and who counts as a worker, as the Economic History Association points out, it may be difficult to compare the average number of hours people work each week.
However, trends may be seen if enough data is gathered and examined. Workweeks in high-income nations such as Germany and France tend to be shorter than those in countries like the United States and the United Kingdom.
The workweeks in the poorest and most underdeveloped nations are the longest, at least for those who can find a job, but reliable data is hard to come by.
24/7’s forecast for 2020 Wall Street calculated the average number of hours worked per week by full-time, non-self-employed workers in 37 member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) for 2018. (OECD).
Below is a new study based on the most current 2020 data.
The top 10 countries in the world with the shortest workweeks (in hours — OCED 2020 data)
- Denmark — 25.9
- Norway — 26.3
- Germany — 25.6
- Netherlands — 26.9
- Iceland — 27.6
- France — 27.0
- Luxembourg — 27.4
- Uruguay — 29.5 (2019)
- Ecuador — 29.8 (2019)
- Switzerland — 28.8
The shortest workweeks in the world are found in these five countries
Data from the OECD shows that Denmark will have the world’s shortest workweek in 2020, and it is often cited as one of the world’s happiest nations.
By 2021, there will be a scarcity of qualified people in industries such as education, health care, IT/computer science/engineering/electronics/machinists/construction workers and food service professionals in Denmark, according to a July 2021 government study.
Hygge, pronounced “hoo-gah,” is a Danish term for creating a “warm environment and enjoying the good things in life with nice people” coined by the country’s tourist site.
Engineers in the energy industry and software and hardware developers are in high demand in Norway, which has the second-shortest workweek in 2020. (oil & gas, wind, hydropower). For professional drivers looking to migrate, Norway has some of the world’s safest drivers.
As Europe’s biggest economy and one of the lowest unemployment rates, Germany ranks second. Experts such as software developers, electrical engineers and fitters, mechanical engineers, medical professionals, IT professionals, and economists have a decent chance of finding employment in Germany, despite fewer workforce shortages than many of its European neighbours.
Another one of the world’s happiest nations, the Netherlands, has a similar profile to Germany. Although unemployment in the Netherlands is very low, the country is actively recruiting people in many of the same professions, focusing on civil engineers and information technology specialists.
As a finalist, Iceland is widely regarded as the world’s most tranquil nation. Although Iceland’s population is little over 340,000, its labour economy is particularly reliant on skilled individuals in healthcare, construction, IT, and tourism.
5 countries with the longest workweeks are profiled in this section
A common pattern among nations with the longest workweeks is that most, if not all, have economies that have not yet completely matured.
Even in a nation like Cambodia, which had the longest work week on average among the countries studied, people are still dependent on handouts. World Bank says that Cambodia’s employment rate of 80% is greater than the norm for East Asian nations (63 per cent).
Furthermore, according to the World Bank, the Cambodian economy can continue to grow if the country diversifies its exports, better supports small businesses, improves industry integration (for example, by using domestically produced fabrics in the garment industry instead of importing them), and emphasises training for the development of a more skilled labour force.
As the economy expands, these issues might be categorised as aches and pains.
While Myanmar is transitioning from an agrarian economy to one oriented on industry and service, the World Bank has found that employment quality has not yet caught up to this shift.
One of the fastest-growing economies globally, Bangladesh is on the verge of middle-income status, with an increasing number of its citizens rising out of poverty.
Work hours, on the other hand, are still gruelling. Long workweeks are the norm in Singapore, but the country also boasts one of the world’s most free markets and a thriving economy.
Singapore has a well-developed economy, unlike many nations with extended work weeks. Among the world’s most competitive economies is Malaysia, which also sees rapid economic expansion and high levels of consumer demand. High-income countries might soon be found in Malaysia.
The following are the ten nations with the highest number of hours worked in 2019:
- Cambodia (47.60 hours)
- Myanmar (47.10 hours)
- Bangladesh (46.50 hours)
- Singapore (44.80 hours)
- Malaysia (42.30 hours)
- South Africa (42.10 hours)
- China (41.70 hours)
- Philippines (41.70 hours)
- Hong Kong (41.30 hours)
- Dominican Republic (41.20 hours)
|Rank||Country||2020 weekly avg (OECD)||2019 weekly avg (PWT)||2018 weekly avg (PWT)||2017 weekly avg (PWT)|
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