Jobs and the Future of Work

Which Europeans have the longest working lives?

Wilford Hall volunteer Jack Kuttner answers the phone while manning the information desk at the Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas

People in Sweden can expect to work until a ripe old age Image: United States Air Force, Staff Sgt. Jerilyn Quintanilla

Stéphanie Thomson
Writer, Forum Agenda
Share:
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on Jobs and the Future of Work?
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how Future of Work is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:

Future of Work

The Italian lifestyle is the envy of many. The food, the climate, and other aspects of la dolce vita have given the country the world's healthiest people. As if that wasn't enough, data from Eurostat shows that Italians have the EU's shortest working lives -- an average of just 30.7 years.

The industrious Swedes, by contrast, clock up another decade at 41.2 years. Their neighbours across the North Sea in the Netherlands, Denmark, Britain and Germany have similarly long working lives.

 Map showing which Europeans have the longest working life.

Across Europe, people are spending more years working than in the past. In 2015, Europeans worked on average 1.9 years longer than they had just a decade before.

People in Malta saw their average working life increase by 5.1 years between 2005 and 2015. But given that they can still expect to work for just 33.4 years, it’s unlikely many of their friends further north will feel too sorry for them.

Of course, just because Swedes have the longest working lives, it doesn’t mean they’re chained to their office desks. While 13% of employees in OECD countries work more than 50 hours a week, only 1% of Swedes do. Sweden is also well-known for its family-friendly work policies, such as generous maternity and paternity leave and shorter than average working days. Perhaps it’s thanks to their appreciation of work-life balance that they’re able to stick at it for so many years longer.

Have you read?
Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Share:
World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

Why companies who pay a living wage create wider societal benefits

Sanda Ojiambo

May 14, 2024

About Us

Events

Media

Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum