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Statistical Proof That The U.S. Stinks At Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance is the bane of every working parent’s existence, which is why statisticians around the world keep logs on how long their countrymen work and play. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) consists of 36 countries devoted to sharing population stats, which are used to shame each other into progress socially, environmentally, and economically. Think of OECD’s Better Life Index as a global statistics contest to see who can boast the healthiest, happiest, most prosperous population.

Now imagine the U.S. placing 32nd in that contest.

Granted, there’s no comprehensive ranking because the factors involved are so varied and complex, but U.S. workers, at 14.3 hours, rank 32 out of 36 countries when it comes to average time per day devoted to personal care and leisure. This includes sleep, eating, sex, Bocce Ball, and everything else you’d rather be doing the other 9.7 hours of every day.

• Total average per day of OECD countries: 15 hours
• The champions of personal care and leisure: Denmark and Spain (16.1 hours)
• The most overworked country, which could use a nap and a shave: Turkey (13.4 hours)

U.S. Work-Life Balance IndicatorsThe U.S. is notorious for long hours and rightfully so. When it comes to working 50+ hour weeks, 11.3 percent of us are guilty as charged. That “wins” Uncle Sam a 26 ranking behind #1 Russia, who, for the record, developed colored TVs after the U.S.

• Total OECD average percentage of employees working 50+ hours/week: 13
• The champion of banker’s hours: Russian Federation (0.2 percent)
• The loser again by a truly astounding margin: Turkey (40.9 percent)

Interestingly, 17 percent of American men work over 50 hours every week, compared to 7 percent of American women, but both genders spend the same amount of time on personal care and leisure. That 10 percent gap? Women devote it to care, but it’s not personal, and it’s certainly not leisurely. Dads may be taking on more duties in the home than ever before, but moms still carry the bulk of domestic responsibilities in most U.S. families.

Working Man

Thomas Leuthard

The OECD’s Better Life Index does more than point out that America sucks at work-life balance; it provides deductive rationale and advice for a solution. Their 2 cents — and stop them if you’ve heard this one before: The U.S. should implement policies that improve flextime, paid parental leave, child education services (e.g. Head Start program), and early investments for parents that strengthen “support for families around the time of birth.”

That, or everyone go work for Netflix.