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Work-life balance? Apparently we’ve never had it so good…

An interesting graph was uploaded to the Adam Smith Institute website recently, which at face value appears to show that we’ve never had it so good in terms of work-life balance:

Working hours per year has fallen consistently over the last 50 years across the world

No surprises regarding this chart in some respects. For example, advances in technology and overall wealth have led to a reduction in work hours across the board over the last 50 years. It’s also no surprise that people work longest overall in the US; one of the major reasons I have never wanted to work there – either in my days as a lab researcher or in my current career – has always been the unreasonable hours (particularly when on a fixed salary) and the relative lack of annual vacation.

One thing doesn’t seem right to me though – apparently the average UK annual working hours total is ~1700, which roughly equates to a 35-hour week over 48 weeks. Really…? In the Pharmaceutical industry at least, I don’t think anyone (outside of London anyway) works that few hours; based on discussions with friends in a variety of other service and financial industries, the same is true for them at well. Since the graph above is an average across the country, there must therefore be a lot of people who work a lot less than a 35-hour week…

Anyway, perhaps we should all move to Norway – bracing weather, beautiful landscapes, and plenty of leisure time to enjoy it all in…