Europeans work on average 19 per cent fewer hours per year than Americans, a new study by three economists from the United States, Canada and Germany shows.
The conclusions were reached following a detailed study by economists Alexander Bick of Arizona State University, Bettina Bruggemann of McMaster University in Ontario and Nicola Fuchs-Schundeln of Goethe University Frankfurt.
A higher amount of paid holidays in Europe account for between a third to a half of the difference, the research showed. The higher unemployment rate in Europe is also a factor contributing the lower amount of hours worked.
The study examined data from 18 European countries and the United States using three different labour force surveys: the European Labour Force Survey, the US Current Population Survey, and the German Microcensus, covering the time period 1983 to 2011.
However within Europe the number of hours worked varies greatly by country, and there is a number of areas where certain European countries compare one-to-one with US employment data.
The Swiss are most similar to the Americans at just 4 per cent fewer hours, while Italians are the furthest at 29 per cent, according to the study.
Next in the ranking were France at 26 per cent fewer hours, Belgium at 25, Poland at 24 and Germany at 22.
Researchers say the data also opens new avenues for research into areas such as why Americans work so much longer than Europeans and which factors most influence productivity.