Matthew Keogh

Mar 2, 2021

Do Australians work more hours per week than Americans? Or do Fins outwork Mexicans?

In this article, we’ve looked at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) member countries, and revealed their average weekly hours worked, average weekly wage and average hourly rate.

You’ll learn who works the most hours and who earns the most amount of money.

Key Takeaways

 

Mexican, Greek and Chilean people work the most hours per week on average. However, they also occupy the bottom three spots for hourly rate, which means they work long hours for minimal pay.

Danes, Dutch, Germans and Icelanders work the least number of hours per week on average.

Luxembourg recorded the highest average weekly wage with $1,320.78, while Mexico recorded the lowest with $338.34.

The highest average hourly rate went to the country of Iceland with $46.87, while Mexico recorded the lowest with $8.25.

The highest earning countries (average hourly rate)

1. Iceland – $46.87

According to the OECD, strong unions and wage bargaining have increased wages and kept poverty rates down.3

In terms of employment, 86% of people (aged 15-64) in Iceland are employed, well above the OECD average of 68%. In addition, 15% of employees work long hours, more than the OECD average of 11%.

Icelanders also work to an older age. The average retirement age for a man is 68.1 years (OECD average: 65.4) while for women it’s 65.9 years (63.7).

2. Luxembourg – $45.70

Luxembourg’s strong economy is built on a dynamic services sector, sound fiscal policies and openness to global talent.4

Despite their high wages, only 66% of Luxembourgers (aged 15-64) are employed (2% below the OECD average). Furthermore, only 4% of Luxembourgers work long hours (7% below the OECD average).

Luxembourg residents also retire relatively early. The average retirement age for a man is 60.5 years (OECD average: 65.4) while for women it’s 61.3 years (63.7).

3. Switzerland – $42.81

Switzerland ranks above the OECD average in jobs, income and work-life balance.5  

A staggering 80% of Swiss people (aged 15-64) are employed (12% above the OECD average). However, only 0.4% of employees work long hours. This lack of extras hours contributes to their healthy work-life balance attitude.

The lowest earning countries (average hourly rate)

1. Mexico – $8.25

Mexican people work the longest hours out of the OECD countries for the lowest weekly wage and hourly rate. Roughly 61% of people (15-64) have a paid job, which is below the OECD average of 68%.

Lack of structure and formality has hindered productivity in recent years (e.g. inefficient allocation of resources and insufficient workers’ training).6

In Mexico, 29% of employees work very long hours, well above the 11% OECD average. Mexicans also work well into old age. The average retirement age in Mexico is above the norm. For men, it’s 71.3 years (OECD average: 65.4). For women, it’s 66.5 years (63.7).

2. Chile – $14.06

Chileans also work long hours for little pay. They work the third greatest number of hours per week and take home the second worst weekly wage.

The Chilean economy is still under construction with better childcare (which helps more women enter the workforce) high on the agenda, along with strengthening skills and education.7

63% of Chileans are employed (5% below the OECD average), while 10% work very long hours. The average retirement age in Chile is 70.0 years for men (OECD average: 65.4) and 66.7 years for women (63.7).

3. Greece – $14.11

Greece is another country where there’s a disparity between average weekly hours worked and average weekly wage. Greeks work on average, 37.4 hours per week for $528.05.

Still in recovery mode from a recession, Greece is currently improving tax collection and all levels of education. In good news, high poverty rates have slightly declined in recent years.8

Only 54% of adults (15-64) are employed (14% below the OECD average). What’s more, only 6% of Greeks work very long hours. The average retirement age in Greece is 61.7 years for men (OECD average: 65.4) and 60.0 years for women (63.7).

Where does Australia sit amongst the OECD countries?

Australians work an average of 32.9 hours per week, coming in equal 13th with Estonia. They earn $31.79 per hour, which is the 11th highest amount on the list, while the weekly wage is the 7th highest amount.

13% of Australians work very long hours, exceeding the 11% OECD average. The average retirement age in Australia is 65.3 years for men (OECD average, 65.4) and 64.3 years for women (63.7).

Which countries enjoy the best work-life balance? 

According to the OECD’s better life index, work-life balance is based on time devoted to leisure and personal care, in relation to employees working very long hours. 

The following countries enjoy the best work-life balance:

  1. Netherlands
  2. Italy
  3. Denmark
  4. Spain
  5. France
  6. Lithuania
  7. Norway
  8. Belgium
  9. Germany
  10. Sweden

Source: OECD Better Life Index.9

Brought to you by Compare the Market: Making it easier for Australians to search for great deals on their Income Protection Insurance.

Sources:

  1. OECD (2020), Hours worked (indicator). doi: 10.1787/47be1c78-en (Accessed on 30 November 2020)
  2. OECD (2020), Average wages (indicator). doi: 10.1787/cc3e1387-en (Accessed on 30 November 2020)
  3. OECD better life index. Iceland. http://www.oecdbetterlifeindex.org/countries/iceland/. Accessed December 2020.
  4. OECD better life index. Luxembourg. http://www.oecdbetterlifeindex.org/countries/luxembourg/. Accessed December 2020.
  5. OECD Better Life Index. Switzerland. http://www.oecdbetterlifeindex.org/countries/switzerland/. 2020. Accessed December 2020.
  6. OECD. Mexico Economic Snapshot. Economic policy reforms: going for growth country note. http://www.oecd.org/economy/mexico-economic-snapshot/. Accessed December 2020.
  7. OECD. Chile Economic Snapshot. Economic policy reforms: going for growth country note. http://www.oecd.org/economy/chile-economic-snapshot/. Accessed December 2020.
  8. OECD. Greece Economic Snapshot. Economic policy reforms: going for growth country note. https://www.oecd.org/economy/greece-economic-snapshot/. Accessed December 2020.
  9. OECD Better Life Index. 2020. http://www.oecdbetterlifeindex.org/topics/work-life-balance/. Accessed December 2020.