Hours Worked in Europe and the United States: New Data, New Answers

Alexander Bick, Bettina Brüggemann, Nicola Fuchs-Schündeln

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


We use national labor force surveys from 1983 to 2015 to construct hours worked per person on the aggregate level and for different demographic groups for 18 European countries and the United States. We apply a harmonization procedure to measure hours worked consistently across countries and over time. In the recent cross-section, Europeans work 14 percent fewer hours than US Americans. Differences in weeks worked and in the educational composition each account for one quarter to one half of this gap. In addition, lower hours worked per person than in the United States are driven by lower weekly hours worked in Scandinavia and Western Europe, but by lower employment rates in Eastern and Southern Europe.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalScandinavian Journal of Economics
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2019



  • Demographic structure
  • employment
  • Europe–United States hours gap
  • labor supply

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics

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