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Systems: US vs. Europe

Old (2005) Tony Judt column, worth a re-read/re-post -- heck, first post since joining LJ, probably. Compares US vs. European health, vacations, productivity.

"American put in 1,877 hours in 2000, compared to 1,562 for his or her French counterpart." Note that's 20% more hours.

"Whereas Swedes get more than thirty paid days off work per year and even the Brits get an average of twenty-three, Americans can hope for something between four and ten,"

"of the world's developed countries only the US and South Africa offer no universal medical coverage"

"In 1970 GDP per hour in the EU was 35 percent below that of the US; today the gap is less than 7 percent and closing fast. Productivity per hour of work in Italy, Austria, and Denmark is similar to that of the United States; but the US is now distinctly outperformed in this key measure by Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, ...and France.[4]"

"Europeans even appear to be better at generating small and medium-size businesses. There are more small businesses in the EU than in the United States, and they create more employment (65 percent of European jobs in 2002 were in small and medium-sized firms, compared with just 46 percent in the US)."

"Yes, in certain respects the UK today has real affinities with America: the scale of poverty in Britain, and the income gap between rich and poor, has grown steadily since the 1970s and is closer to that of the US than anything found in Western Europe. British hourly productivity is well below most West European rates." And the teen pregnancy rate is more like the US, too.

'The new US secretary of state was widely quoted in 2003 to the effect that the United States intends to "forgive Russia, ignore Germany, and punish France."' And the US's long campaign against democracies continued...

"a popular joke: Britain was promised that Blair's Third Way would bring it American universities and German prisons—what it is actually getting are American prisons and German universities."



( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 10th, 2008 11:11 am (UTC)
Have you read Judt's "Post War"?
Feb. 10th, 2008 04:24 pm (UTC)
No. Tell me?

This column actually turned out differently that I expected; I now suspect what I read in the past was a different Judt piece on the EU way of doing things, the merger through endless negotiation and diplomacy.
Feb. 10th, 2008 02:20 pm (UTC)
The "Americans can hope for something between four and ten" paid days off per year sounds misleading at best to me.

With the workforces I've been associated with over nearly six decades, 10 paid holidays plus 5 to 25 (depending on policies and longevity) paid vacation days (plus some paid sick time) were standard. Agreed, many workers, particularly in non-union or part-time positions, don't get that, but the statement gave no hint of a statistic, and the stated range is clearly wrong.

Doesn't give me a lot of faith in the other facts mentioned, although no other blatant misrepresentation jumps out.
Feb. 10th, 2008 04:37 pm (UTC)
That did strike me as odd, though most of the other numbers I'm fairly sure are correct, and even "standard" vacation time for us is low compared to what Europeans report. And it depends on your employer: I've been told Indiana University offers 6 weeks off to it's techies.

But this says that 25% of Americans get no paid vacation at all. Oh right, you note something like that yourself -- but that links says other countries have vacation laws, so everyone does get that. So that "four to ten days" might be some weird attempt at an average.

Also found Chris Dodd's piece about his fight to guarantee leave -- unpaid -- for family medical purposes, like births or sickness.

This at the bottom gives average vacation times: 14 for us, 24 for UK, 36 for France.
Feb. 10th, 2008 04:57 pm (UTC)
Thanks. Your numbers seem reasonable, and I agree, the other snippets from the article seem reasonable. But many places that give vacation days also give paid holidays. But I agree, it depends a lot on the employer or union contract. So does right to unpaid leave.

As far as Europeans having more than US, I agree. My son ran a warehouse in Germany when he was on active duty - they used locals for staff. Dealing with the time-off requirements was one of his headaches.

Thanks again for the extra info.
Feb. 10th, 2008 05:07 pm (UTC)
A Swede gets minimum 11 holidays plus 25 days vacation, I believe.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )


Damien Sullivan

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