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Israelis work more hours than any in Western world, according to OECD

Israeli average work week of 40.6 hours is seventh-longest of all OECD member nations • Chief economist says low labor productivity is main factor • Report shows stronger economies tend to have shorter work weeks, but this does not apply in Israel or the United States.

Israeli currency. Photo by Nati Shohat/Flash90.
Israeli currency. Photo by Nati Shohat/Flash90.

Israel has a longer work week than any country in the Western world, with Israelis working an average of 40.6 hours per week, according to new figures from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The OECD ranked Israel as having the seventh-longest work week among member nations for 2016.

According to the report, the Turks worked the longest hours, putting in an average of 47.9 hours each week. Turkey was followed by Colombia, Mexico, Costa Rica, Chile and South Africa. Just below Israel in the number of hours worked each week were Poland (39.9) and Hungary (39.6).

On the other end of the scale, the Dutch worked the shortest week in the OECD, with 29.1 hours per week, followed by the Danes (32.1) and the Norwegians (34). The overall OECD average was 36.8, nearly four hours less than the Israeli average.

The report showed that, in general, nations associated with economic success have found a way of working less. Other countries with shorter work weeks than the OECD average of 36.8 included Sweden, Finland, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Australia and France. Conversely, longer average work weeks tended to correlate with less economic success.

However, this did not apply to Israel, the United States or New Zealand, all of which have longer work weeks than the OECD average (the United States with 38.6 hours and New Zealand with 37.4).

A number of factors contribute to Israel’s long work week, but the main one is low labor productivity, which measures efficiency by dividing the output of goods or services by a given company or institution by the number of employees.

According to figures from the Chief Economist’s Office in the Finance Ministry, Israel ranks 14th out of 20 economies whose productivity was evaluated in 2017. Israel was only 57 percent as productive as the United States, which topped the ranking.

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