Work Hard, Play Hard? How the U.S. Stacks Up
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Work Hard, Play Hard? How the U.S. Stacks Up

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Looking around the world, who works the most hours? Makes the most money? Has the most leisure time? Or shells out the most for rent?

Take a look at our comparisons of some common workplace, quality-of-life and cost-of-living indicators from capital cities around the globe.
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Work Hard, Play Hard? How the U.S. Stacks Up | Slide 2 of 10

Most Time on the Clock

Source: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development

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Though workweeks vary in different cities, happy hour clearly starts earliest in Berlin, at least based on hours worked. Or maybe Berliners just get to sleep in longer. In places where six-day workweeks are typical -- in Israel, for example -- lengthy midday breaks, half days on Fridays or Saturdays or an otherwise more flexible schedule are commonplace.
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Work Hard, Play Hard? How the U.S. Stacks Up | Slide 3 of 10

Most Personal Time

Source: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development

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Not surprisingly, given that they work the fewest hours, Germans have the most time to spend on themselves during the week. Berliners spend two-thirds of their day enjoying leisure and personal activities: exercising, shopping, nightlife and whatnot, as well as sleeping, eating and other nonwork pursuits.
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Work Hard, Play Hard? How the U.S. Stacks Up | Slide 4 of 10

The Biggest Paycheck

Source: Economic Research Institute

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No surprise that Tokyo's workers, who clock the most hours, also take home the largest paychecks. At the other end is New Delhi, where the average accountant's salary is $7,740 a year, a reflection of the significantly lower cost of living in a still-developing country.
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Work Hard, Play Hard? How the U.S. Stacks Up | Slide 5 of 10

Most Paid Leave

Sources: Interviews with countries embassy representatives

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Shown here is the federally mandated minimum number of days of leave that employers must offer employees. The numbers don't include paid holidays, which tack on 10 days or so, on average. Note that the U.S. does not mandate paid leave as do other countries. However, private employers give American workers an average of 10 days of paid time off a year.
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Work Hard, Play Hard? How the U.S. Stacks Up | Slide 6 of 10

Longest Wait for Retirement

Source: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development

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This slide shows how many years the average 24-year-old worker can expect to work until retirement at the current average retirement age. Keep in mind that the retirement age is bound to go up by the time young workers are ready to retire, since these average retirement ages are deemed too low in nearly all of our countries.

Note that under today's standards, a young professional in Tokyo will have to work a full eight years longer than his or her counterpart in Athens.
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Work Hard, Play Hard? How the U.S. Stacks Up | Slide 7 of 10

Priciest Rent

Sources: Economic Research Institute, interviews with expatriates

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Average rent as shown here is for two-bedroom digs in a trendy, convenient part of town. It's a good thing that folks in Tokyo earn the highest salaries because they need them to put a roof over their heads. The average rent in the city is nearly 50% higher than in the runner-up, London.
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Work Hard, Play Hard? How the U.S. Stacks Up | Slide 8 of 10

Highest Cost of Filling the Tank

Source: GIZ (German Agency for International Cooperation)

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Despite the rising cost of gasoline in the U.S. in recent years, the average retail cost of a gallon of gas in Washington, D.C. -- $3.37 -- is much lower than in its capital counterparts throughout the world. Ankara is the standout here, with gasoline costing drivers a whopping $9.54 a gallon (yes, we converted liters to gallons). Drivers in countries belonging to the European Union are subject to several dollars in value-added tax and fuel taxes, whereas drivers in the U.S. pay 48ยข a gallon on average for state and federal road levies.
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Work Hard, Play Hard? How the U.S. Stacks Up | Slide 9 of 10

Most Expensive Groceries

Source: Numbeo Cost of Living Index

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In New Delhi, groceries cost on average 38% less than they do in Washington. In Tokyo, a resident pays about 35% more for groceries than someone in Washington pays.
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Work Hard, Play Hard? How the U.S. Stacks Up | Slide 10 of 10

Highest Youth Unemployment

Source: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development

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Sure, it's not easy for college grads to find work in Washington -- or elsewhere in the U.S., for that matter -- but they have an easier time of it than their counterparts in Madrid. High unemployment rates among educated young people are helping to fuel many of the protests around the world, including the Occupy Wall Street movement in the U.S.
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