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Visualizing Annual Working Hours in OECD Countries

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Average annual working hours OECD

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Visualizing Annual Working Hours in OECD Countries

Comparing the number of hours people work in different countries can provide insight into cultural work norms, economic productivity, and even labor laws.

With this in mind, we’ve ranked OECD countries (plus a few others) based on their average annual hours worked. Note that this data includes both full-time and part-time workers.

Data and Highlights

The data we sourced from OECD is listed in the table below. All figures are as of 2021 (latest available), with the exception of Colombia, Russia, and Türkiye which are as of 2020.

CountryAverage annual
hours worked
🇲🇽 Mexico2,128
🇨🇷 Costa Rica2,073
🇨🇴 Colombia1,964
🇨🇱 Chile1,916
🇰🇷 South Korea1,910
🇲🇹 Malta*1,882
🇷🇺 Russia*1,874
🇬🇷 Greece1,872
🇷🇴 Romania*1,838
🇭🇷 Croatia*1,835
🇵🇱 Poland1,830
🇺🇸 United States1,791
🇮🇪 Ireland1,775
🇪🇪 Estonia1,767
🇨🇿 Czech Republic1,753
🇮🇱 Israel1,753
🇨🇾 Cyprus*1,745
🇳🇿 New Zealand1,730
🌐 OECD average1,716
🇭🇺 Hungary1,697
🇦🇺 Australia1,694
🇨🇦 Canada1,685
🇮🇹 Italy1,669
🇵🇹 Portugal1,649
🇪🇸 Spain1,641
🇱🇹 Lithuania1,620
🇧🇬 Bulgaria*1,619
🇯🇵 Japan1,607
🇱🇻 Latvia1,601
🇸🇮 Slovenia1,596
🇸🇰 Slovakia1,583
🇹🇷 Türkiye1,572
🇨🇭 Switzerland1,533
🇫🇮 Finland1,518
🇬🇧 United Kingdom1,497
🇧🇪 Belgium1,493
🇫🇷 France1,490
🇸🇪 Sweden1,444
🇦🇹 Austria1,442
🇮🇸 Iceland1,433
🇳🇴 Norway1,427
🇳🇱 Netherlands1,417
🇱🇺 Luxembourg1,382
🇩🇰 Denmark1,363
🇩🇪 Germany1,349

*Non-OECD country

At the top is Mexico, where the average worker clocks over 2,000 hours per year. This reflects the country’s labor dynamics, which typically involves a six-day workweek. For context, 2,128 hours is equal to 266 eight-hour workdays.

The only other country to surpass 2,000 annual hours worked per worker is Costa Rica, which frequently tops the World Economic Forum’s Happy Planet Index (HPI). The HPI is a measure of wellbeing, life expectancy, and ecological footprint.

Looking at the other end of the list, the two countries that work the fewest hours are Germany and Denmark. This is reflective of the strong labor laws in these countries as well as their emphasis on work-life balance.

For example, the German Working Hours Act (Arbeitszeitgesetz) states that daily hours of work may not exceed eight hours. Days can be extended to 10 hours, but only if it averages out to eight hours per working day over a six-month period.

Working fewer hours doesn’t mean that a country is becoming less productive, though. Germany is known for its high value industries like automotive and pharmaceuticals, where robotics and other technologies can greatly enhance productivity.

This is supported by GDP per capita, in which Germany has grown substantially since 2000.

Limitations of this Data

A limitation of this dataset is that it aggregates both full-time and part-time workers. This means that in a country like Japan, where almost 40% of the workforce is non-regular (part-time, contract, etc.), the average figure could be skewed downwards.

Japan is known for its grueling office culture, and it’s likely that many workers are logging significantly more hours than the 1,607 figure reported.

If you enjoy comparisons like these, consider taking a look at our ranking of cities with the best work-life balance.

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Politics

The Start of De-Dollarization: China’s Gradual Move Away from the USD

The de-dollarization of China’s trade settlements has begun. What patterns do we see in USD and RMB use within China and globally?

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An area chart illustrating the de-dollarization of China’s trade settlements.

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The following content is sponsored by The Hinrich Foundation

The Start of De-Dollarization: China’s Move Away from the USD

Since 2010, the majority of China’s cross-border payments, like those of many countries, have been settled in U.S. dollars (USD). As of the first quarter of 2023, that’s no longer the case.

This graphic from the Hinrich Foundation, the second in a three-part series covering the future of trade, provides visual context to the growing use of the Chinese renminbi (RMB) in payments both domestically and globally.  

The De-Dollarization of China’s Cross-Border Transactions

This analysis uses Bloomberg data on the share of China’s payments and receipts in RMB, USD, and other currencies from 2010 to 2024. 

In the first few months of 2010, settlements in local currency accounted for less than 1.0% of China’s cross-border payments, compared to approximately 83.0% in USD. 

China has since closed that gap. In March 2023, the share of the RMB in China’s settlements surpassed the USD for the first time.

DateRenminbiU.S. DollarOther
March 20100.3%84.3%15.4%
March 20114.8%81.3%13.9%
March 201211.5%77.1%11.5%
March 201318.1%72.7%9.2%
March 201426.6%64.8%8.6%
March 201529.0%61.9%9.0%
March 201623.6%66.7%9.7%
March 201717.6%72.5%9.9%
March 201823.2%67.4%9.4%
March 201926.2%65.1%8.7%
March 202039.3%54.4%6.3%
March 202141.7%52.6%5.6%
March 202242.1%53.3%4.7%
March 202348.4%46.7%4.9%
March 202452.9%42.8%4.3%

Source: Bloomberg (2024)

Since then, the de-dollarization in Chinese international settlements has continued.  

As of March 2024, over half (52.9%) of Chinese payments were settled in RMB while 42.8% were settled in USD. This is double the share from five years previous. According to Goldman Sachs, foreigners’ increased willingness to trade assets denominated in RMB significantly contributed to de-dollarization in favor of China’s currency. Also, early last year, Brazil and Argentina announced that they would begin allowing trade settlements in RMB. 

Most Popular Currencies in Foreign Exchange (FX) Transactions

Globally, analysis from the Bank for International Settlements reveals that, in 2022, the USD remained the most-used currency for FX settlements. The euro and the Japanese yen came in second and third, respectively.

Currency20132022Change (pp)
U.S. Dollar87.0%88.5%+1.5
Euro33.4%30.5%-2.9
Yen23.0%16.7%-6.3
Pound Sterling11.8%12.9%+1.1
Renminbi2.2%7.0%+4.8
Other42.6%44.4%+1.8
Total200.0%200.0%

Source: BIS Triennial Central Bank Survey (2022). Because two currencies are involved in each transaction, the sum of the percentage shares of individual currencies totals 200% instead of 100%.

The Chinese renminbi, though accounting for a relatively small share of FX transactions, gained the most ground over the last decade. Meanwhile, the euro and the yen saw decreases in use. 

The Future of De-Dollarization

If the RMB’s global rise continues, the stranglehold of the USD on international trade could diminish over time.  

The impacts of declining dollar dominance are complex and uncertain, but they could range from the underperformance of U.S. financial assets to diminished power of Western sanctions.

However, though the prevalence of RMB in international payments could rise, a complete de-dollarization of the world economy in the near- or medium-term is unlikely. China’s strict capital controls that limit the availability of RMB outside the country, and the nation’s sputtering economic growth, are key reasons contributing to this.

The third piece in this series will explore Russia’s shifting trading patterns following its invasion of Ukraine.

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Visit the Hinrich Foundation to learn more about the future of geopolitical trade

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