2007 August 21 Tuesday
Swedes Still Tops On Vacation Days

The Swedes even surpass the Germans in days vacation per year.

The EU study showed that, compared with the Swedes' entitlement of 33 days of paid vacation in 2006, Germans had 30, Italians had 28 and Estonians, who ranked last, had 20.

(These numbers include the statutory minimum paid leave, as well as days added by collective bargaining agreements, but not public holidays. Not all EU countries are included in the study, since the way of gathering data relating to vacations is different in a way that makes comparisons difficult.)

Even more strikingly, Americans had, on average, only nine days of paid vacation in 2006, according to a recent report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington. That discrepancy is, in large measure, because the United States has no statutory minimum of paid vacation days.

In the face of this kind of global competition, some are now saying that Swedes must seriously consider giving up some of their cherished summer days off.

The article describes the pressures on Swedish business to keep factories and other facilities running more days of the year. Also, since we use more services even when vacationing the demand for holiday workers has probably risen as a proportion of the total economy.

In a way it makes sense for some governments to legislate more days off. People feel a need to work long hours to compete with others in status hierarchies. Mandatory vacation amounts to a mutually agreed upon ceasefire period where shifts up and down status hierarchies can't happen. People can escape the need to compete because they can know that their competitors are also not spending vacation times competing.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2007 August 21 11:17 PM  Economics Labor

Andy K said at August 22, 2007 2:53 PM:

The Swedes get 33 vacation days a year and Americans only 9? What the hell's going on? I know Corporate America has one hand in Congress's pocket and the other around the American workers necks, but this is absurd! Instead of pressuring Sweden and the EU to cut down days, how about raising it for America, Canada, and Japan?

I also note based on conversations I've had with Europeans over the years, that Europe has had this policy for many decades, it's not just a recent EU benefit.

Randall, since I've seen you comment several times about how we should raise the retirement age to ease the coming Social Security crisis, don't you think this would be a fair trade-off?

Randall Parker said at August 22, 2007 6:18 PM:

Andy K,

We need more workers to keep the ratio of workers to retirees from getting low. Toward that end I also favor getting kids into the workforce sooner: Accelerate Education To Increase Tax Revenue, Reduce Costs.

More vacation days would reduce the amount of work and the amount of products and services and the amount of tax revenue to pay for a swelling tide of retirees.

The Euroes pay a price for their long vacations: lower per capita GDPs. They also have higher taxes. Most people would rather make more money. Given the ability to take unpaid days off people I know rarely do it.

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