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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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Charted: Hours Worked vs. Salaries in OECD Countries

What are the average work hours and salaries in OECD countries? We look at the data for trends across regions.

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A cropped chart with the average number of working hours per week, with a typical weekly wage in 35 OECD countries.

Comparing Weekly Work Hours and Salaries in OECD Countries

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is generally regarded as a collection of highly developed, high income countries. However with 38 member states from across the globe, economic prosperity can still vary widely between these nations.

To illustrate this, Truman Du from Genuine Impact charts the average weekly work hours and salaries across the OECD in 2022.

For wages, the OECD divided a country’s total wage bill by the average number of employees, accounting for inflation by using USD constant prices with a 2016 base year. Importantly, they also adjust using purchasing power parity (PPP) for private consumption of the same year.

Ranked: OECD Countries By Working Hours & Average Pay

Here’s a list of 35 OECD countries ranked by their weekly wage in 2022.

Iceland has the highest weekly wage at $1,528 in the OECD block much higher than all four of its Nordic neighbors. This results in Icelandic workers, on average, earning nearly $55/hour.

RankCountryAvg. Weekly Wage (USD)Avg. Weekly Work (Hours)Avg. Hourly Rate (USD)
1🇮🇸 Iceland$1,528.3327.87$54.84
2🇱🇺 Luxembourg$1,505.9628.33$53.15
3🇺🇸 United States$1,489.6834.83$42.78
4🇨🇭 Switzerland$1,403.7129.40$47.75
5🇧🇪 Belgium$1,247.0729.35$42.50
6🇩🇰 Denmark$1,233.2026.38$46.75
7🇦🇹 Austria$1,226.9527.76$44.19
8🇳🇱 Netherlands$1,215.8727.44$44.31
9🇦🇺 Australia$1,142.4632.83$34.80
10🇨🇦 Canada$1,135.5832.42$35.02
11🇩🇪 Germany$1,133.4725.79$43.96
12🇬🇧 United Kingdom$1,038.1729.46$35.24
13🇳🇴 Norway$1,033.7727.40$37.73
14🇫🇷 France$1,014.6829.07$34.91
15🇮🇪 Ireland$1,004.6731.87$31.52
16🇫🇮 Finland$996.8428.81$34.60
17🇳🇿 New Zealand$975.4333.62$29.02
18🇸🇪 Sweden$969.3627.70$34.99
19🇰🇷 South Korea$940.8136.56$25.73
20🇸🇮 Slovenia$907.7631.13$29.16
21🇮🇹 Italy$863.3332.59$26.49
22🇮🇱 Israel$849.1536.38$23.34
23🇱🇹 Lithuania$843.7431.23$27.01
24🇪🇸 Spain$824.2231.61$26.08
25🇯🇵 Japan$798.2530.90$25.83
26🇵🇱 Poland$709.5534.90$20.33
27🇪🇪 Estonia$667.4034.05$19.60
28🇱🇻 Latvia$656.4629.87$21.98
29🇨🇿 Czech Republic$643.7633.73$19.08
30🇨🇱 Chile$635.4237.75$16.83
31🇵🇹 Portugal$613.8831.44$19.52
32🇭🇺 Hungary$547.5932.68$16.75
33🇸🇰 Slovak Republic$505.0531.19$16.19
34🇬🇷 Greece$499.6036.27$13.77
35🇲🇽 Mexico$320.8742.81$7.49

Note: 2022 data for OECD members Colombia, Costa Rica, and Türkiye is missing from the source and has not been included.

Luxembourg, ranked second place, is the only other country with an average weekly wage that comes in above $1,500.

The U.S. ($1,490), Switzerland ($1,404), and Belgium ($1,247) round out the top five countries with the highest weekly pay in the OECD.

On the other hand, Mexican workers make around $321 a week, the lowest in this dataset.

Hourly Wages & Cost of Living

Despite the wage data using PPP-adjusted metrics, it still doesn’t fully account for discrepancies in local prices, which are influenced by complex factors like tariffs and fuel costs for imported goods, the impact of monopolies and cartels, the price of non-traded goods (energy, housing costs) and government taxes.

And while the difference in salaries seem massive, paying workers enough to meet their costs of living also plays a factor. Countries with higher weekly wages also correlate with a much higher cost of living and vice versa.

Switzerland, Denmark, and Iceland for example are in the top 10 countries with the highest cost of living compared to Mexico, which is far more affordable.

So, while it seems that an average Icelandic worker makes almost 7x what an average Mexican worker makes, the reality of how much of that wage is spent in supporting an average lifestyle in both countries is less direct.

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