Koreans Still Work Longer Hours Than Most

      November 03, 2015 13:11

      Koreans worked 2,124 hours per year on average in 2014, up 45 hours from 2013 and the second-longest in the OECD, according to figures released on Monday by the organization of mostly rich countries.

      Among the 32 countries surveyed, Korea came second only to Mexico's 2,228 hours. Koreans worked 354 hours longer than the OECD average of 1,770, or an average of 6.8 hours more per week.

      Koreans worked 1.6 times longer than the Germans, who had the shortest working hours at 1,371 or just eight months of working hours in Korea, due to their 35-hour week and generous holidays. Until 2007 Korea had the most grueling working hours, having peaked at 2,512 in 2000.

      Labor hours were shorter in northern European countries, such as Denmark (1,436) and Norway (1,427), and western European countries like France (1,473) and the Netherlands (1,425), which provide relatively generous welfare. Hours in the U.S. (1,789) and Japan (1,729) are similar to the OECD average.

      The Korean figure was high because the self-employed barely rest and fewer people work part-time than in Europe, according to the Korea Labor Institute. But Koreans also frequently work overtime and suffer under an organizational culture where staff cannot be seen to leave the office before their superiors, others point out.

      In terms of labor productivity, however, Korea ranked at the bottom in the OECD. In labor productivity per hour, Korea finished 28th with each worker producing an estimated US$30.4 worth of goods or services per hour according to the purchasing power parity index among the 34 OECD members.

      That is only about half of the productivity of a worker in the U.S. ($65.1), France ($60.6) and Germany ($59.2).

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