Europeans are well known for a more balanced lifestyle than workaholic Americans. But these days, Europe has never worked so little. While the Continent worked as much as the rest of the developed world 20 years ago, it has steadily cut back on work weeks while lengthening vacations, a trend that has gathered steam in recent years.
Without realizing it, Europe has embarked on an unusual experiment in an era of globalization: trying to become more competitive while working less.
So far the economic results are not promising. Two years ago at a summit in Lisbon, European Union government leaders set the goal of becoming the most competitive economy in the world by the end of this decade. But with unemployment rising and nearly no growth in consumption, Europe’s fortunes appear tied to a U.S. turnaround more than ever.
I don’t understand this. While the rest of the world appears to be working more, Europe wants to work less. They are going to lose out to the hungrier, emerging markets in the times to come.