Average weekly working hours

How long is the average work week in Europe?

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Map of how many hours a week people in Europe work.

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On this map we can see how much time people spent working on their main job on average per week. At first, this looks like data on the country level, but it’s actually at the NUTS 2 level. Although the differences within countries are small, there are still some very interesting differences.

As we can see, Dutch people work far less than any other country, where the average work week is 30 to 33 hours. Switzerland, Norway, Denmark and part of Germany and Italy also have a relatively short work week of 33 to 36 hours.

Why is that number so much lower in the Netherlands than other countries? Well, there is a very clear explanation for that: part-time jobs. Nowhere in Europe are there more part-time jobs than in the Netherlands. 47.6% of employees in the Netherlands work part-time. In Switzerland this is 39.4% and in Austria 23.9%. In Scandinavia and Germany it’s between 20 and 25%. In the rest of Europe this is below 20% or even below 10%. Most of these part-time workers in the Netherlands are women.

When looking at these numbers of people working part-time, there seems to be a correlation with the average number of hours worked. The numbers from Eurostat on people working part-time covers more than just their main job. The statistics in this map only focus on people’s, main job. Meaning that a lower number of average working hours could also be caused by people working multiple jobs. Although I haven’t found any data on people working multiple jobs, the data on people working part-time makes me believe that the vast majority of the numbers in this map cover people with only one job.

The longest average work week can be found mostly in Eastern Europe, but in particular in Serbia, Greece, Montenegro and Turkey. Most people work more than 42 hours per week here.

We can also see some very interesting regional differences. The first one that stands out is Germany. We can see a very clear difference between West and East Germany, with East Germany working longer hours than West Germany. Another one is West Flanders in Belgium, where people work a bit more than in the rest of the country. In London, people also work more than in the rest of the country, although that is probably not too surprising. In Serbia, we can see the opposite. In Belgrade, people actually work less than the rest of the country. Around Athens and in the Northeast of Greece, people also work less than in the rest of the country. Sicily is also an interesting place that stand out, working shorter weeks than the rest of Italy.

This dataset comes from Eurostat.

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