European Union

18 European countries where people work fewer hours than those in the US

The iconic Chain Bridge of Budapest spans the Danube river and the Royal Palace is seen in the background November 19, 2013. Budapest offers a wealth of choices for lovers of music, art and architecture in a beautiful setting on the Danube river, which bisects the city on the midpoint of its journey from the Black Forest to the Black Sea. To match Trip Tips:  TRAVEL-BUDAPEST/   REUTERS/Laszlo Balogh (HUNGARY - Tags: CITYSCAPE SOCIETY TRAVEL) - RTX15NQ9

Could working 30 hours could actually make employees more productive than a 40-plus-hour-week? Image: REUTERS/Laszlo Balogh

Leanna Garfield
Innovation Reporter, Tech Insider
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Last month, Amazon announced its plans to pilot a program in which a few dozen employees will work just 30 hours each week. In return, they'll receive 75% of their normal salary and retain full benefits.

The idea behind the pilot is to see whether working 30 hours could actually make employees more productive than a 40-plus-hour-week. Research backs up this premise, since evidence suggests most people can only concentrate on a task for four or five hours at a time before we start to feel fatigued. After we've hit our peak, our performance will begin to flatline or suffer.

Citizens of some countries, like France and Hungary, have been working fewer hours for a long time. A new working paper, spotted by Quartz, looks at the average annual work hours per person in 18 European countries and the US (factoring in vacation time). Researchers compiled data from the European Labor Force Survey, the US Current Population Survey, and the German Microcensus to produce the ranking.

Check out the list below, which shows how many hours the average employee from each country works per year.

19. The US — 1,353 hours per year.

18. Switzerland — 1,310 hours per year.

17. Czech Republic — 1,219 hours per year.

16. Portugal — 1,191 hours per year.

15. Denmark — 1,182 hours per year.

14. Austria — 1,177 hours per year.

13. Greece — 1,161 hours per year.

12. Ireland — 1,149 hours per year.

11. The UK — 1,143 hours per year.

10. Sweden — 1,141 hours per year.

9. Norway — 1,116 hours per year.

8. Spain — 1,089 hours per year.

7. The Netherlands — 1,081 hours per year.

6. Hungary — 1,061 hours per year.

5. Germany — 1,053 hours per year.

4. Poland — 1,038 hours per year.

3. Belgium — 1,011 hours per year.

2. France — 1,007 hours per year.

1. Italy — 960 hours per year (or an average of 20 hours per week, factoring in vacations).

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