No. 38: Not working

Yes, you read the title correct. Dutch people like to not work. In fact, they like to not-work so much that they have actually become experts at it and are now the best in the European Union at doing so (not-working that is).

"Ain't life grand?!"

It was announced this week that the Dutch work the fewest hours of any other nation in the European Union (which pretty much means in the world since we all know the EU is a pretty cushy place) ;). And here you thought the French were the ones lazily spending their days sipping coffee, shopping for baguettes and playing boule. Well, guess again – the Dutch are pretty darn good at enjoying the good life.

On average people in the EU work only 37.5 hours a week, but here in the lowlands, Dutch people clock in an average of just 30.6 hours per week! That’s almost one whole day less a week then all their other EU neighbours.

"What are we to do with all this free time?"

Let’s not even get started on the drastic differences of our friends across the pond! The average North American works somewhere between 44-52 hours per week (depending on the research). A study released last week showed that the average American teacher works average 53hrs/week! The difference is truly shocking – compare 30.6 hours to the low end of an American 44 work week and that’s a difference of 697 hours per year (or 87 less working days)!!

How, you ask, are the Dutch spending all this free time (or the additional 697 hours to be exact)? Well, my friends, they are certainly enjoying themselves. I’ve seen ‘em. They’re riding their bikes, they’re sitting at cafes discussing the weather, they’re leisurely shopping for hagelslag and drop, they’re enjoying mama/papa-dags, they’re eating herring, they’re taking their 25 days/year of vacation, they’re frolicking in their tulip fields. Jokes aside, the Dutch do somehow manage to top the list of productivity in the EU, so something seems to be working and let me tell you, they’re having a hell of a good time at it!

The women, however, appear to be having the best time of all –many working part-time and being ranked as the “Happiest Women in the World“. It appears they’ve figured out what we all inherently know as true: working less is simply better.

Perhaps that’s why Dutch people are so attached to their agendas! They need those little books, and iphone calendars to help them schedule all their bloody free time! :) It’s a good life in the lowlands, I ain’t complaining ;)

Leave a Reply

  1. Ha, that’s why we are so uptight about being efficient!
    The more efficient we are, the more we can spend time enjoying ourselves. Looking forward to that long walk on the beach already………..

    • 2 striking things here:
      1) The number of annoyed dutch women who refute this statistic!
      2) The tax is so high in NL that no-one is motivated to work more hours than they need. Why would anyone work an extra 10 hours a week only to get paid for 5 if they don’t have to? Especially when those 5 extra hours pays for a corrupt, inefficient, hypocritical government. I think even Americans can agree with that.

  2. Does this post take into account that a lot of parents will work part-time so they can alternate caring for the kids?

    • yes that’s what I was about to ask. Is the average taken from the people working or the average taken from all people who could be working? So if we have two parents who work both parttime, the average amount of work is less when you at how much people work, but it’s the same work produced as one parent working full-time, and the other not working at all.

      • That’s quite true: I even think that on average, Dutch households with a part-time working mother probably work more hours in total than other households that are more traditional when it comes to gender-roles. Also the employment rates are lower than in other countries due to this flexibility in weekly hours.

        But I also think we should give due credit to our social system and Dutch labour unions making the position of the Dutch employee much stronger than in a lot of other countries. Dutch people are not lazy, but we are certainly excellent negotiators, even if you’re ‘just’ a normal employee ;-)

    • If you look at Americans they work more hours and care for the children… so I think the Dutch way is pretty darn good. I worked about 60 hours per week and sometimes more. It was expected. I had two weeks off, and a week for personal days and a week for sick leave. This was considered generous by American standards. I used most of my vaction, sick and personal leave for taking care of my kids, appts and school needs. I used my lunch hour to pick up my kids from school. Crazy most Dutch say and I agree but it was the way it is. I had a high level posistion and if I did not like it I could leave. People ask me often why I choose to live in NL and the number one reason I tell them is because I can enjoy my personal time and life in general. I do not live to work. I make less money and the weather sucks but I am much more happier and so are my kids. That is priceless and I hope the Dutch way does not change.

    • This is not completely a free choice. There are several reasons: – the amount of money spent on childcare is often almost as much as a woman would earn, especially if there is more than 1 kid.
      - most women have the freedom to work parttime, because the financial space is there. However just one income is not enough, so they are not free to not work at all.
      -many typical women’s jobs are often only available part time. When choosing a proffesion a lot of women dont realise this.
      - plus a lot of typical women’s jobs are so incredibly badly paid, it is almost a hobbie, and once the children are born, most hobbies disappear.

  3. This is because a lot of people work part-time. So if they work less they get paid less accordingly. It also results in lower unemployment rates than in most other European nations.

    • what about the people who work the friday “at home”… quit some friends of mine are pretty clever with this working time.

  4. Hahahaha oh I thought this was normal ;) No wonder my Irish makes fun of my plans to only work max. 4 days a week in the future :P Your posts are awesome, when I think you had covered pretty much everything, something new (and recognizable) will come up :D

  5. Did the research state how they got those numbers?
    A large part is because of many women working parttime, so they can also take care of the kids, while most men do work fulltime (37 to 40 hours a week).
    Then there are the ZZP-ers, who a lot of the time work 60 hour weeks.
    I guess we just prioritize differently than Americans do…

  6. Ha! This just means we’re almost twice as productive as the Americans.

    Now excuse me while I enjoy the rest of my well deserved free time :)

    • That’s one way of looking at it. Another possibility could that most Dutch people lack passion and empathy. But who knows, I’m just an American working with all Dutch people.

      • So passion equals working 60 hours a week? Some people also have a life…

      • You sure you didn’t come to work here to enjoy more free time? ;)

      • I was born in the Netherlands. I grew up in America. I have family in America. I have friends in America. I live in the Netherlands. You sir are quick to say you are insulted, as can be seen by your many reactions. Yet you are also quick to insult. I love America and Americans, but just as there are bad Dutchies you sir are one of the bad Americans. In America they say “if you don’t love America then get the hell out”. You are a guest here so I don’t think it is too much to ask that if you are so displeased with the people you feel the need to be insulting then please apply your own American saying to yourself and this country. Otherwise please apply the standard you seem to hold other people to to yourself.

      • I don’t think you hit the nail on the head Kairo: lack of passion and empathy would suggest a low productivity (which we don’t suffer from). I.m.h.o. empathy and passion have little to do with the amount of hours spent in the office. (I realise I am speaking from my own experience: myself and my colleagues.) I personally believe the main reason for the difference is the fact that Dutch society is skewed away from competition but towards cooperation. It is a different economic model (Rhineland-model vs. Anglo-Saxon-model, essentially) but it works pretty good.

        Things won’t work well though if an American or British employer in the Netherlands tries to impose the Anglo-Saxon-model on Dutch employees. Maybe that’s why your Dutch co-workers seem uninspired? I know for myself I wouldn’t perform well in a highly competitive environment: if I have to win to be the best, I’d stop performing. Why? Because other people would have to loose in order for me to win. I’d much rather try to find out what they’re good at and use their qualities to mutual avail. In a highly competitive environment I wouldn’t get a chance to find out what their qualities are: the only thing expected form me would to be ‘better’ than they are. To be honest: that’s easy and not satisfying at all.

        Interesting assertion: the most successful companies in the US (e.g. Google, Facebook) adhere to a similar strategy when it comes to motivating people to perform.

      • What do passion and empathy have to do with it? It is all about productivity of course. We work the least hours of the EU (and possibly the world), yet we have a very high GDP per capita. Not the highest in the EU or the world, but still pretty good, and we reach it despite working less hours. That is productivity.

        Do you know which country works the longest hours in the EU? Greece.

      • In the US there are 32 Million people who are long term unemployed AND have to beg from charities and soupkitchens to stay alive. That is twice the population of The Netherlands. And that does not happen in the Netherlands. So people of the US, those that are better off, make your own backyard a bit more humane, before you winge about working hours/days in other countries.. PR

      • @Jules:

        I love people that actually seem to know what they are talking about. Your cooperation-vs-competition theory is very plausible.

  7. Few comments:

    As much as the current Dutch administration likes to portray teachers as lazy, a full time teacher in the Netherlands easily works 40+ hours a week (the big difference can be explained away by the extra-curricular activities); apparently, the number of hours in front of the class and the numbers of students in the class that Dutch teachers teach is the highest in the developed world (full time job is 27 teaching hours, average 25-30 kids per class; lesson preparation alone can make that roughly 40 hours a week easily)! And just as his/her American counterpart, Dutch teachers take the job home…

    Part of it is the very high percentage of part-time workers; first women, and increasingly men (in part because full time jobs are fewer on offer, due to part-timers taking up slots. Also, increasingly, full time employees are deemed too expensive…

    What also helps:

    - Better entrenched rights as far as holidays are concerned.
    - Perhaps a higher productivity
    - On the lower end, better wages (for now). I get the feeling, to a considerable extent, that many North Americans work that many hours because wages at the lower end are basically too low to properly maintain a family.

  8. We leave the much discussed topic of cold water hand washing in tiny sinks for something really controversial and important. Great topic! I look forward to reading and responding to the upcoming comments.

  9. Where is the firm one has only 30,6 hours? Untill this day I have always worked 36 hours or more! I am not complaining because I like my job but I think it is because of the many parttime working woman here that this average comes out?

    Shows how clever and fabulous at planning Dutch people are! ;-)

  10. I agree with the comments on here as well. I’ve read an article by an American lady who thought that all the Dutch women spend their days with drinking coffee instead of their career. It just pissed me off…

    Although a lot of women work part-time, to compare this with America is just not right, because I think that in America you have: ‘stay at home mums’ or ‘career women’ and no women who work part-time. I really don’t know a lot of stay-at-home mums among my friends, but a lot of friends who are mums work part-time.

  11. Oh and I forgot… A lot of my friends (who work parttime and have kids) clean their own house, cook and take care of the children as well… Otherwise they feel quilty… ;-)

  12. The tax departement isn’t the only one to give their employees 48 days of holidays a year!

  13. Unfortunately it’s all a bit of a lie, really. The statistics are swayed heavily by the fact that so many people – mostly women – work part time hours. That also lowers the unemployment rate. What’s debatably a downside is that it shows there’s still a definite patriarchy here, and the real trend of “men work, women are housewives”.

    • There are plenty of men who work only 4 days. It’s not entirely socially accepted, unfortunately. I’ve turned down jobs because they insisted on 5 days, but I really want to spend that extra day with my son. But my brother and various childless friends also work 4 days.

      Whenever a prospective employer refuses my 4 day work week, I ask why, and often they don’t really know either.

      By the way, my wife works a full 36 hours a week (though she still fits it in 4 days usually). I often work less than 32 hours.

  14. Productivity doesn’t come in hours, it is how you spend those hours. Work hard (efficient), play hard. What could be better!! All this free time is also good for the economy. More time for shopping, sport clubs, drinking a cup of coffee, a glass of wine on a terrace etc., etc.

  15. I don’t know anyone that works 30 hours a week. Standard working hours in the Netherlands are 38 hours a week.The average is down because of mothers working part time. It is not possible to live of a 30 hour/week salary for most people.

    Vacation days are mostly between 25 and 30/year.

  16. We invented Saturday as an extra day off to create more jobs in the ‘weekend’ industrie. And why we don’t work so long that’s because we are very precise and carefull with money. Some call us cheap. I call us efficient. If all jobs were 40 hours a week a lot of people wouldn’t have jobs at all.

  17. The blogs on this website are brilliant. I enjoy them so much. Including this one :-)
    In defence of Dutch teachers I fully agree with Harm though – my mum was a teacher and boy did she work hard. She dedicated her life to teaching children (secondary school) and trust me: her work day wasn’t over when she came home.
    I work part time, that’s a personal choice. I enjoy it – I feel my life is more balanced. But when people tell me: “Oh boy… I wished I worked your hours; that would be easy” I kindly remind them that I also make way less money than they do. That silences people ;-)

  18. Perhaps that is because the Dutch just work more efficient and aren’t as money crazed as the rest of the world?! I live in Sydney now and I HATE the way Australians work. Inefficient an extremely long hours. Which if they would just organize things better, get an agenda?, be way less effort… No, give me the Dutch system t all times! Even with most of its GDP coming from stolen natural recourses Australia has a comparable GDP to NL and even with the good economy here and the extremely bad in NL the unemployment figure aren’t as far apart as you’d expect. Distribution of wealth on the other side is a different story, 16% of the people here live in poverty, in the US the figures are even more shocking!, but the amount of millionaires is of course also way higher. Give me my ‘sovialist’ state any day! And for you as expat there are massive tax advantages too in NL that I can’t enjoy here, so I guess life in the Netherlands isn’t all that bad? ;-)

    • Wow .Way to be really rude about your hosts….if NL is so fantastic Piet, why do you live in Sydney?

  19. You have statutory rights to work part-time in the Netherlands that do not exist in the US. Also, our medical insurance is often tied to our working full-time. The US has no statutory requirements on how many hours worked, how many holidays or vacation days guaranteed off, or paid sick leave. And yes, many partners BOTH work just to pay the bills, with one of them desperate to keep a job with health insurance. I tried for years to work part-time here in the US when my children were younger only to be told that I could not – I had to quit or work full-time.

    But your statutory rights are under attack, not because you aren’t productive *enough*, but because companies want to make MORE profit by cutting labour costs. In my opinion, the US has only two things that are better than the Netherlands: wide open space; and weather. Even those are dependent on where in the US you live.

  20. Hate to brake it to you, but you are not having your facts straight..

    First of all, the Dutch are also the best in optimizing there work flow. In other words they work in the most effective way. Compared to other countries, who need more hours to do the same job. Second of all, the Dutch also have the highest part-timers in the world, wich is the biggest reason that the average dutch person only works ±30 hours.

    I love your blog, but keep it real :-)

    Here is my source (though it’s in dutch.. sorry): http://www.nrcnext.nl/blog/2012/03/06/next-checkt-de-nederlander-werkt-de-minste-uren-van-europa/

    • Regardless of how you break it down (men, women, part-time, flex-time, full-time) the outcome is STILL the same. The Dutch -as a collective whole- work less hours then any of their EU counterparts.

      The fact that part-time work is acceptable in the Netherlands is unique, and a real luxury (for both men and women).

      • The overal outcome is -ofcourse- still the same, but that’s exactly my point! You are generating an image about the dutch being lazy, which is not true. And because of the part-time jobs, the overal outcome of unemployed is only 5%. That is the lowest of the EU.

        I guess it’s also a dutch habbit to get the facts straight no matter what… lol. Anyway, i hope i didnt spoil the blogpost.

        Cheers,

        Lennard

      • “The Dutch -as a collective whole- work less hours then any of their EU counterparts” -> this is actually incorrect. Reading the article it states that only people with a working contract are counted. The participation of work in Netherlands is higher as many choose to work a few hours a week instead of staying home and take care of the kids. The “collective whole” is defined in a different way.
        Netherlands has the lowest amount of public holidays in Europe and they are not compensated when they fall in a weekend. Also pregnancy leave periods in Netherlands is relative low compared with the rest of Europe. This is also an explanation for the higher productivity which is not caused by working harder, but working more hours of the actual contract.

  21. Hi there, I found your blog recently and I’m already a big follower. You go to the spot and your posts are all I wanted to explain to Dutch and I never could. Thank you ever so much for making me laugh every time you post.
    I’m Portuguese, living in the Netherlands, and I’ve never had so much quality of life, and I guess that’s because (finally) I learned how to “not work” just like the Dutch do. I still work 5 days a week, but every day I go out at 17/18 and I do something else out of my day. Which I didn’t when I was in Portugal and kept on working until 22 in the evening. Keep on posting!

    • We indeed work and that’s why we’re, among a small number of other countries, are paying the bill for; Greece, Portugal, Spain, Ireland and soon Italy! We work extremely hard compared to other nations and this is honestly the first post on this blog that is completely blown out of proportion. Et the facts right! People in Greece retire around 50, to ensure pensions we agree to work in until eventually 70! Look at the size of the countries, amount of people, eemographics, GDP etc and come with your conclusions. Incorporate other wealthy countries like the Scandinavian ones in your research as well, look at their rights on parental leave for example. And you’ll find the ‘rest’ of the world is doing something wrong, not us. Posting this crap solely on gut feeling is ridiculous. The Netherlands is always in the top of best countries to live in and a lot of the posters here should just be happy they can live there. Again, I live in Australia and honestly can’t find one single thing that improved in my life despite the loner hours I work.

      • Unbeleivable, but unfortunately typical dutch arrogance. During the paars government, maybe NL WAS one of the best countries to live in, but it hasn’t been, certainly for foreigners for a looooong time. And I work in healthcare with 70% dutch and 30% foreigners and the dutch employees are workshy, always calling in sick, rarely take an extra shift if a colleague is sick, and always go home on the dot even if there is extra work to do…I could go on…. this country would collapse if all the foreigners went home. ( not all, there are a couple of exeptions, bless them…)

      • @dot
        Nothing to do with Dutch arrogance. So your experience is the monopoly how it really goes. Ok so far the arrogance..

        You work in healthcare, that is the baddest place to be working in. Everybody knows this perhaps.. except you?

  22. “They need those little books, and iphone calendars to help them schedule all their bloody free time!”

    Yes, and don’t they just schedue it!!! I’ve been on trips with Cloggies where they really do have to have each and every day planned out with activities ; there’s no spontaneity, no “let’s just glance at the map/guidebook and pick somewhere to go today”.

    Trying to introduce such a day into their holiday usually ends up with you going your separate way and being thought badly of as a result. Gawd help anyone who breaks the routine.

    (speaking of routine, doesn’t that also deserve a category here? “It’s Monday so I eat xxx for lunch, it’s Tuesday so I eat yyy”, etc etc).

  23. Pingback: O tempo e a comida são uma merda, mas pelo menos… #1 « the race is long

  24. I do think (and agree with others here) that the part-timers mess up those statistics. Most people I know have contracts for 36 or 40 hours. The ones that work as a ZZP-er (sole proprietorship) (like me) most of the times work 50 to 70 hours a week.

    But yes, we like our free time.. Just wished I had more :(

  25. We are just more productive, so what others do in one whole week, the dutch do in 3 or 4 days….

    • woopy i have been brought up in holland and moved to canada at the age of 20 and lived here for 52 years and still call myself a hollander but iam also a proud canadian

  26. I think it’s hilarious that the Dutch commenters think this is all beccause of efficiency. Even my children laugh at the fact that maybe 1 in every 10 people we see at work is actually working. And it’s not because of the part-time jobs, either. Americans get part-time jobs to fill the time that’s not spent at their full-time jobs! Y’all are lazier than other cultures. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing- I see it as a result of your enviable focus on family and frugality. But let’s not pretend that it isn’t the truth :)

    • You forget that the Dutch are always critical about everything (even themselves).
      So don’t see the comments as a way of saying “That’s not true”.
      Dutch DO work less, but assuming that they are lazy is jumping to premature conclusions.

      • I have to agree with Erin. The Dutch people at my company are definitely lazy. Out of the 100 or so Dutch at my company, only 2 are champions. Another dude and I are senior engineers hired abroad to help the 2 Dutch champs keep things afloat. From now on we’re only hiring from abroad because Dutch engineers almost all cost more than they bring in…

      • When does “prematurity” expire? Because I’ve been here for a year and my experience is pretty universallly the same:)

      • In response Piet again but this time to the “Please go to the US than (then)…” comment.
        I find such comments extremely insulting. I have seen several of these comments on this website; heard it before outside (particularly at people from African descent); and heard it said to me once at work (some argument over customer service at a furniture store he liked) but the guy later apologized so we’re cool. As a researcher, I have worked among many people from all walks of life in the US (and in NL), but I have never said that (or thought it even) to any one. Regarding my job (role and function at a Dutch company), I’m here because I believe it is the right thing to do. We are really making a positive impact on society with our products and services. Believe it or not, I do have some values that I’m proud of and would not leave just due to minor social hardships/inconveniences. Unfortunately, I was just offered a position at an equality respectable organization back in the US (starting in 4 months!), so Piet may get one of his after all.

      • I apologize for that remark. It was stupid and provocative. I didn’t mean it in an insulting way, but completely understand it is. It’s something people said many times to me living abroad and I guess what it really means is what it actually says. If you don’t like it, why don’t you go home? The Netherlands is undeniably, from an economic point of view, one of the better countries in the world to live in. I compare it every day and if I had a real choice at the moment I’d move back today because of that. Unfortunately because of my personal situation I can’t at the moment. Reading all these rather negative often unrealistic comments make me quite angry. Of course that’s unfair to be angry about opinions, but it triggers that because I wish I was in my beloved Holland right now, working 32 hours instead of maximum expected unpaid overtime in Australia. Again I hear that ‘go home’ remark all the time when I comment in society here, even out of the blue on the bus, and I know what it feels like, sorry for that! Although putting it in different words I.e. ‘if you don’t like it, why not go home’ already sounds a bit more fair to me… Being a ‘guest’ requires a certain modesty I guess, especially as long as you can’t vote, you’re most likely not going to change much…

    • Especially Americans are ridiculous in there opinion here. You fill the time with a second job because you’re not able to pay the bills. The Dutch system works better than the American in EVERY single way. Look at the percentage of poor people in your country…

      • I find your conclusion on this matter inaccurate and insulting. I agree with you that many of us are not keeping up with our bills and have only ourselves to blame for that. The situation applies only at the level of the individual household though in that they could very much live comfortably but can’t resist the lure of purchasing beyond their means. I think the Dutch from early 1900′s to 1950 or so worked really hard to establish a great economy, while the new generation is using up the reserves quickly. The percentage of poor people in the US could definitely be fewer but it only seems a lot more than in NL because things are transparent (i.e. Morgan Spurlock’s work). Just because it’s not on TV or the internet all that much doesn’t mean the problem is not as bad in the Netherlands. I’ve been here for 2 years now and I’ve met a lot of poor people. Most of which are what my Dutch coworkers as allochtonen (often in a demeaning way that I don’t approve) which I have a feeling is not figured into the statistics you are inferring about poor people.

      • I’m glad that you’re concerned about my ability to pay my bills. It will likely interest you to know that I manage to pay them just fine, thanks. In fact, with all the taxes I pay, I’m also covering a big chunk of your bills and the bills of my fellow citizens. My husband and I work hard because it’s been instilled as a value from an early age. That’s the only reason. And I think that’s what many Dutch people don’t understand. The Dutch work to survive. Once you’re able to meet that need, you find something else to do with your time- and that’s fine. That’s not the case in my country, and that’s fine, too. I don’t understand why you feel such a need to defend your way of life that you go on the offensive?

  27. Dutch are just more efficient. We get more work done in less time, so there’s no need to work longer. I myself work at Agendia inc. When I was send to Agendia’s American branch in Irvine, CA, for a few weeks to support the lab over there, my American co-workers there often told me I was working so efficiently, while I myself had no idea what they were talking about. I just did my job the same way I do it in the Netherlands, but apparently my way of doing it was efficient compared to the American way of doing it.

  28. Great post (again).
    I never worked more than 32 hrs per week in the Netherlands (and no, I don’t have kids/mama-dagen or what so ever), just like the work-life balance. And it’s possible in the Netherlands. Surely, you get paid for the hours you work but I’d rather have the opportunity to work part-time in New Zealand and have a 20% pay cut. Unfortunately, that’s just not that easy to arrange in this country.

  29. I am a single Dutch man, so without a partner to share the costs with, yet I still only work 20 hours a week, in a job with 6.5 weeks of holiday a year. I can usually fill those 20 hours by working two slightly longer days, giving me a 5 day weekend. always.

    how, do you ask? by prioritising.
    I choose to live in a smaller apartment, so my rent is lower. and in the Netherlands we have a rent-control system that is based upon points. also, even though the political climate worldwide is leaning to the right, the Dutch government is in principle still socialist, so if you don’t earn enough money to pay your rent, the government will subsidise your rent, just like it will subsidise your already cheap health insurance.
    I can see you thinking that I must be living in a dump, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. yes, my apartment is small (40 m2), but I live in the centre of Amsterdam overlooking a canal, much to the jealousy of many of my friends.

    I do have a student loan that I’m paying back, but even though the student loan exceeds €30,000.- the amount that I have to pay back is calculated by yet another point system based on my income, so that the amount I’m paying back is less than the monthly interest on the loan. on the bright side: in 3 years I will have been paying back this loan for 15 years, and at that point the Dutch government will say that it’s enough, and clear my debt, wiping the slate clean.

    and it is not like I have to budget-down a lot. I still go on a holiday twice a year (I’m leaving for India next week), and I buy all of my food organic, and I have more electronic toys than I can play with.
    I would love to go on explaining about our social system, but much like yesterday: the sun is out so I’m meeting a friend to go play Scrabble in the park during a pick-nick. my next work day is Sunday.

    how do you like them apples?

    • Nonononono! Are you crazy?
      Don’t tell them THAT! Now we’ll be flooded with people comming over just to take advantage making us having to work MORE to compensate for them. Gone are the free days we worked sooooo hard for.

    • But you spent more time explaining how you live frugally on “free stuff” (ie. paid for by other, harder-working citizens) than how you cut costs to live within your own means. That’s worse than laziness. That’s the definition of an entitlement mentality and it’s exactly what’s causing the worldwide economic collapse. You should be absolutely ashamed to admit any of this, let alone boast about it.

      • Absolutely agree. I work like a donkey to help subsidise people like that, with co-workers who are too prissy to deal with the more unsavoury aspects of our work even though they knew the deal when they applied for the job, and complain if they are roostered in more than 2 days in a row!

      • The economic crisis is not caused by the entitlement mentality. It is caused by massively poor investments made possible by deregulation of the financial system which allowed the same situation to occur as happened in the 30s, namely the creation of unlimited paper wealth not based on any real resources. However, I will agree the guy above is a leech and that a socialist system discourages feelings of personal responsibility. However, studies that measure happiness put the Netherlands right at the top and our gdp per capita is greater than that of the US. Couple that with a more equitable spread of wealth and my preference goes to our way of doing things.

    • Eric your a typical example of someone who is abusing the Dutch socialist system. Because of people like you, people who really need it will be receiving less and people like me will be forced to pay a 60% tax when PvdA gets enough votes in the next election.

    • And just who is paying for all your socialistic tendencies? Really? Where does the Gov. get it’s money?
      I was born in The Netherlands but grew up mostly in North America. I WISH we were more “right” leaning.
      Eventually someone is going to have to pay the bills of Gov. Sadly, that will be the taxpayer…no matter what country you live in.

      • 1. The heading of the No 38 article “Not Working” is highly misleading. Not working means being unemployed. They are not unemployed, though some are. The 30 hours figure is an average. There are many mothers of small children, and others, who choose to work part time, but they earn their keep and pay their taxes.
        2. If the Dutch would suddenly all start working an average of say 40 hours, there would be much greater unemployment, like in the US, where there is also not even a legal minimum pay for adults. Many Americans work hard for a pittance remaining poor in the process. The Us is half a century behind the trend in treatment of people who have to work for their keep.
        3 To me these are not “socialistic tendencies”‘ Titia, they are the result of people having their priorities right. And depending on your definition of that notion ( apparently a condescending word in the US, for unclear reasons, but elsewhere it indicated a degree of sharing, rather than greed), what would be wrong with it if such tendencies create a nation that is much happyer than the US (which has millions in an underclass of poverty, that can not even afford the basic health care, who can not any more rise out of it because that mobility has been killed off there, partly because of the education and health systems and partly because the wealth is concentrated in the top 1% who work a lot less than 30 hrs a week. The US is where the GFC started, created by the Americans and their system). Work part time and be happy rather than die early from stress etc.
        Think about it. And don’t be jealous.
        Cheers
        Peter Reynders
        Canberra Australia

    • Thanks for your post Erik. I couldn’t have picked a better example of what is wrong with the Dutch welfare state myself. All government funding where intended to protect the weak in our society, such as people with disabilities, single moms and just in general to ensure no one has to starve.

      Unfortunately a large group of people like yourself have become lazy shits (I thought hard, but couldn’t find a way to put it more politely) and are causing the system to become unaffordable. It was never intended to support people who don’t work (or work enough) just because they don’t feel like it.

      Like you, a large portion of the people nowadays think in what rights they have and not in what obligations they should fulfill in return. For you it won’t be a problem when our welfare system breaks, since you will just have start to work more, but it will be a problem for those who genuinely can’t. When it does break I hope you can still sleep at night, but looking how selfish you have organized your life you probably will.

      • Hold on people… you looking in the wrong direction. Don’t look at some of the people who the system, sometimes perhaps a little leniently but nothing extravagant, provided an opportunity to have a modest but just liveable life, BUT look at those who inherited untold wealth without lifting a finger, and do not work at all if they do not want to and do not carry their weight in the tax burden of the nation, as tax havens are used hiding trillions. THAT would be worthwhile issue to spend time on.
        How hard or how many hours a person chooses to works is, in the final analyses, the outcome of the quality of law and management.

    • Your personal ethics are despicable.

      You know this, this is why you wrote this comment, to get a rise out of other people.

      It’s possible that you’re making this up, but it rings true enough that even if it’s not true for you, it’s true for some people in the Netherlands.

      Just because what you’re doing is LEGAL, doesn’t mean it’s RIGHT.
      The comments of non-dutch people towards the Dutch being passionless, having bad work ethic, no empathy, they are aimed at people like you. You may be happy with yourself, but if I were you, I’d be ashamed to look in the mirror.

      So many priviliges, so many things given by others and giving so little back.

      You disgust me.

    • Sir, you are a genius. keep living like that. all these people here are simple jealous because they dont have the same quality of life as you. you dont owe anything to anyone .

      • ali, There is nothing odd or unusual about working just 20 hours a week. I know a lot of people who work just 20 hours a week here in Australia. It does not earn you a lot of money, but one can live that way. One of them spends the other 5 days in the library researching his subjects and he writes books with the results… The people to worry about are the ones who have no job at all.
        Cheers.PR

  30. In a recent post on The Guardian’s Data Blog, the statistics concerning average hours per week worked and productivity per hour (efficiency in other words) are visualized and compared. We are happy to see that The Netherlands, home of TimeScapers, spends less than the average number of hours per week at work (40.9), but in terms of per-hour productivity performs second-best in Europe (36% better than the EU average), bested only by Luxembourg.
    http://timescapers.com/2011/12/10/netherlands-second-most-efficient-european-country/

    • Thanks Bart, was just looking for that to counter this story. Having worked for a UK and an Austrian company, from my believe it is a fact we are more productive and efficient. Just take in account meetings. For UK, they can last one hour, but nothing is decided. In Austria, they would decide on one item. In The Netherlands: as much a three or four decisions are made. And usually they are executed too! Even the other day, the client from Austria was refferring to the study you mentioned; not in so many words, the woman said it was true. (BTW, I work a hell of a lot more, but I’m a freelancer so there you go)

  31. I’ve read somewhere(*) that when you compare the Netherlands to the US, people in the Netherlands are more productive *per hour*, but people in the US are more productive *per day*. The difference is of course the number of working hours per day.

    But, especially with statistics, the devil is in the details. Do you include unemployed people in your statistics? And how about the hours spent by people to raise their own children and clean their own homes? If you pay other people for doing these things, it counts as economic productivity, but if you decide to do these things for yourself, it doesn’t end up in the statistics. But does that really mean you’re not spending those hours in a productive way?

    (*) sorry I forgot where, so I can’t point you to the source.

  32. A lot of people here get completely in defensive mode regarding the work attitude of a specific country (US, NL etc). To be honest it is the same story everywhere, the simple fact is that a majority of people do not feel the need to put work at their highest priority list. Than the solution is basicly simple for them 1) if you are required to make many hours, spread the required work over these hours 2) or if possible do the same work in less time.

    The remaing people with a bit more ambition regarding work (so please do not read ambition in general) will not differentiate among any country, it is pretty simple –> work hard and get rewarded for it (whether in money or by any other means).

    I think this will go in general for all developed countries on this world. For developing countries this is different as here the luxury of social security etc is less developed and therefore working hard to make a decent/secured living is still required and not a luxury yet. I say ‘yet’ as in time when countries like China etc will get at income levels comparable to the developed world history will repeat itself. The people in these countries will ask for the same social securities and will over time generaly move away from this hardworking mentallity to a more ‘balanced mentality’. (in simple terms this is explained by the pyramid of Maslow and it is in my opinion ultimatly the cost of prosperity)

  33. Living as a Dutch person in the US and moving here after my 30th, I had to make a huge adjustment. Mandatory overtime, are u kidding me. Making me come in on my day off to work. Yes, you’ll pay me time and a half, but I rather use my personal time different. When I explain my American co-worker about a CAO they are amazed and then the vacation days we get.
    Working through my lunch and not eat at all (can’t eat at your desk at some places). Mega adjustments for this Dutchie.

  34. Pingback: Stuff Dutch People Like | Vaagmagazine

  35. I am 51 y.o. late career Dutch male. Married, two kids both living at home.

    I am paying interest on a 300,000USD mortgage on a 4-bedroom, water front house with south facing garden in an undesirable area. House has decreased in value by about 8% since I bought it.

    I am self employed freelancer and last year earned about 75,000 USD before tax, pension scheme and other costs. I pay about 6,000USD in health insurance for the four of us. I work an average of about 15-20 hours per week and spent the rest skiing and sailing.

  36. Why work late if you can quit at 5 and have a bbq in the park. The whole point of us working so efficiently is that we can afford more leisure time ;)

  37. One of the first things I noticed after we got our television hooked up is the difference in the “save the children” commercials. In the US, they appeal to our sympathies by telling us that the children are starving. In the Netherlands, they tell us that the children have to go pick up water for the family. That tells me that Americans value food and the Dutch value not working :)

  38. Pingback: What’s the craic? (The craic is back) « Amsterdam 1 o'Fun

  39. I think it depends on the company you work for. I work a 40-hour week, which comes to 8 hours a day exclusive of all breaks. Part-time is not an option in our department unless you have a young child and even then you would need approval from our line manager and HR department.

    As for the work-life balance thing, I manage to still find time to have fun and indulge in my hobbies even though I spend 2 hours a day travelling to and from work. Yes, I suppose I could work fewer hours a week and have more “me time” but I prefer to keep myself busy and earn enough to go abroad two or three times per year. At the end of the day, people have different priorities and ambitions so they’re free to work as many hours as they want or need to.

  40. As an American expat in Amsterdam that works (freelances) part-time 3 days/week…and enjoys my ME & family time on my off days…I can’t imagine going back to US and dealing with a 40+hour work week + 24/7 Crackberry lifestyle.

    I get to experience the best of both sides….being extremely productive & efficient in my 3 day work week, enjoying the extra time off with family and having a TRUE work/life balance. I wouldn’t trade this for more $!

  41. I must say I’m having the best time of all, and I don’t work part time, well almost: 4 x 9 (4 times a week, 9 hours a day). It works for me and my little ones. But the question is, how hard can you work in 30.6 hours a week? I mean, you can spend 50 hours in the office doing nothing… right?

  42. Im not Dutch and Im not in NL (unfortunately it appears) because I do agree this mostly means efficiency; if I could work 6 hours/4 days and make the same salary as if I were somewhere else 9hrs/5, why be greedy ?? enjoy life !

    Dan (packing bags :D)

  43. American teacher works average 53hrs/week!…………….that is odd. Why are american students in the bottom of many categories nowadays..? The American “More and bigger” is not always better I assume.

  44. Better work hard for 30 hours and be productive, then work 53 hours with big breaks and not getting stuff done ;)

  45. And they still complain about the Spanish people because of the break during the afternoon.If the weather is warm and sunny it looks like all The Netherlands take a free day to sit under the sun in the cafes.Some of them even pretend they’re sick (on a very sunny lovely day).How the boss doesn’t notice this kind of things?

    • Because he can’t do anything about it. In Holland, if you call in sick… you’re sick. Easy as that. It’s only after a couple of days you’ll get a visit form the company’s doctor.

      • Yes, but if they changed a little bit the system maybe they would have less problems with this kind of people who pretend they are sick for not to work.
        In my country of origin you need to show a paper signed by the doctor proving you were really sick and not able to go to work.
        Talking about working hours for me it’s pretty different from South America.I worked much much more there.I kind of like to have all this free time I have here.Here you have the option to choose if you want to work part-time or full time.From where I come from 99% of the jobs are full time and if you don’t want to accept to work hard there’s a line of some other thousands of people who wants to get the job.
        Dutch people are so lucky and they don’t realize that.They work less, get good payed, they have much less stress (if they work in services managers are not checking if they offer a good service to the clients).
        I wonder if Dutch people can get used to the working life style when they move to other countries…

      • Faasen did get your reply, where you wondered whther Dutch people could get used to working in another country… Of course they can. they are known as hard working people. Australia has 320.000 people from a Dutch background and most of them or their parents came here during the last 50 years. A similar thing happened in Nw Zealand, canada the US and various other countries, including South AMERICA.

      • But if lots of people fake sickness, it will show up in the statistics. If lots of people at a company pretend sickness, that’s a sign that something’s wrong at the company. People don’t call in sick when they’re happy at work. So when people do call in sick, the company will change their work atmosphere to make employees happier and less likely to call in sick for no reason.

        And happy workers are productive workers.

  46. Back in the fifties it was 44 hours (including Saturday morning) plus overtime in some occupations. Strangely over here in Oz I work about 45 hours, because there is always someone sick/away in the team and the work still needs to get done. I only get paid for 38 however, no overtime. So being Dutch and productive is not a bad thing, but some employers take advantage of it.

  47. That’s not totally true.
    Dutch people do work but we don’t work much.
    There are also students who work, so we work also!
    But we don’t work so much because we have many time to do things.
    But we do much nice things, we also enjoy our lives!

    Naomi

  48. It seems that you have not been to Norway. These people – the Norwegians, I mean – simply do not work in the afternoon. I absolutely believe thay are the laziest nation ever but still – among the rishest ones in the world.

  49. Part time working drags the worked hours down. Country A has 2 people, 1 works 40 hours, the other is a stay at home mom. Country B has 2 people, 1 works 40 hours, the other is a mom but also works Part Time, 50% so 20 hours. In country A the average is 40 hours since the second person is not looking for a job and therefore not counted into the workforce. Country B has an average of 30 hours because both people are in the workforce. Needless to say, more hours are worked in country B. That’s only 1 of the calculation mistakes in this comparison. Other than that, nice site!

  50. Let’s all STOP measuring HOURS and START measuring OUTPUT/RESULT. I’m convinced that you can find a research out there that tells you that in terms of output/result (maybe look at Value Added numbers) Dutch have higher output/result measured in 32 hours than Americans have in 48!

  51. Je kunt ook gewoon in het nederlands schrijven aangezien de meeste reactie van nederlanders zijn. Een beetje silly he om te communiceren in een andere taal onderling. Ook weer zoiets typisch Nederlands :)

    • Interesting, Piotr, that you used the word “silly” to point out that all the Dutch people could communicate in the Dutch language when posting their reactions. Very typical Nederlands to use modern-day English words when they believe they are speaking zuiver Nederlands. =)

  52. Wow, let’s put it a little more scientific here, http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_GlobalCompetitivenessReport_2010-11.pdf

    ..page 254…

    We are always in the top 10 concerning efficiency. If I look at my way of working, i rather think all day long about doing my work efficient than work hard at that day, i might use this knowledge next week to fix it in several ours… :-)

    External factors which help a bit:
    - flat surface, easier for making a good infrastructure;
    - weather isn’t slowing us down, when it’s 25 degrees we are most likely enjoying ‘bouwvak’

    Fact:
    Unemployment at this moment of crisis: 5,5

    Yeah subtext is proud, okaaaay…

  53. The US v NL comparisons are truely remarkable, driven by a personailty trade common to both the Dutch and the Americans. They are extremely proud people ;)

    A dutch person willl never understand the horrible healthcare mess in the states, while Americans dont understand why Dutch systemically abuse the welfare system since the 70′s.

    Just now the dutch are realizing their welfare system is crooked by now. Last week a saw a old docu where a dutch girl in her early 20′s was saying she did not feel like working, as if it’s something you can decide without having financial of your own. People lost their sense of self proficiency in the 80′s.

    What Americans should realize is that this solidarity comes from our history, just like your self proficient moral comes from your (short) history.

    The bueaty lies in appreciating eachothers differences and realize that each system has their pros and cons.

    The chances of being better of in Holland are bigger, while the possibility to gain greater wealth is in the US.

    You have to ask your self tho; is flipping burgers and doing call center work for 40+ hours a week hard work? Or is it just the consequence of a low level worker driven middle class? with a huge devide between rich an poor? The US economy is based on consumption with a multitude of different economies between states. Some states are more like the dutch.

  54. Could it just be that we do more in one hour and therefore could work less hours?
    We do have the highest rate of part-timers in the world.

    That doesn’t make us lazy does it?

    We are the happiest (women) as you said yourself, so whatever it may be…we are the lucky ones! :D

  55. im 17 years old and when i was 11 or 12 i started as a papergirl, i became a cashier at the age of 14 or 15 and now i work in a restaurant. Laziness is accepted in the Netherlands, at least not where I live. My dad is angry at my little brother because he things being a paperboy isnt a real job haha xd

    Americans on this site are proving again that they are stupid. Why are you allowed to criticize us but not the opposite way around?

    dont you dare correcting my english, i bothered learning yours and two other languages, you would never bother learning ours or any other language.

    • Dear 17-year old, who started as a papergirl when she was 12. Well done. You should be proud, that your education system helped you speak a second and perhaps a third language. It is great. But do not assume that others do not speak a second language… it is quite common. I know a bit of Hungarian, a fair bit of French (I am translationg a french book to English), a fair bit of German and a bit of Pidgin and yes also Dutch. I translated the 1602 VOC charter to English (see http://www.australiaonthemap.org.au) from 17th century Dutch and that is quite different from modern Dutch. I can even pronounce it in a most revealing way, bringing out the peculiar Dutch sounds: For example just say ( fast) “Een specht die over het deck schreed en met zijn bek vetspek van t spit sneed; heb je ooit een specht zien schrijden, die met zijn bek vetspek van ‘t spit kon snijden?” And perhaps be grateful when people correct your English, it will get better as a result.
      groet!

      • You are REALLY missing my point xd and by the way, that tongue twister wasnt spelled right.

      • Anita, if so, what WAS your point? Perhaps improve the way you try and communicate it, rather than commence a new point about typos or Dutch spelling, which changes regularly, through Government intervention.

      • Well, i read the blog and shared my own experience, because they said the Dutch are lazy, which is not true. At least not where I live.
        I was a bit angry, and my English is not perfect and I have some trouble with my Dutch autocorrect. I asked not to correct me, because there are many grammar nazis on the internet :)

        You decided to tell me how great you are for speaking some languages. I dont know why, it was off topic for both the blog and my comment :)

    • Anita, you’re being a bit silly here.

      First, I think it’s awesome you started work at an early age. I had my first job when I was 15 and I can’t imagine what it’s like as a 11/12-year old.

      You are making a few mistakes with your comments, unfortunately. First you aim at Americans, even if we ignore all the other nationalities of people that have posted, you don’t like the dutch being called lazy, because you aren’t. Many Americans don’t like being called stupid, because they aren’t. I’ve met some incredibly brilliant americans, from neuroscientists to polyglots that speak over 5 languages fluenty.

      Not to mention your dislake of grammar nazi’s, while acting like one yourself.

      Again, I appreciate your hard-work ethic. But please gain a bit of perspective and listen to what you’re writing. “i bothered learning yours and two other languages, you would never bother learning ours or any other language.” makes you sound a bit rude.

      • I’m getting sick and tired from Americans, maybe you’ll understand if you think about it. Keep talking about how good you are.
        America is a young country compared to other countries, and i think the adolescent is the one who should have a bit more respect for the older ones.

        And ofcourse there are ”incredibly brilliant americans, from neuroscientists to polyglots that speak over 5 languages fluenty”, but every country has these people and they don’t represent the average man.

      • the point is that you are the execption the most people in the us don t speak dutch , german french etc
        the us citicens that visit holland speak only englisch and don t try even that is the main difference whe try to speak the language of the country whe are at the moment

  56. The comments about few working hours versus productivity are based on a false logic right from the start: since Netherlands is a wealthy county something must be going right, yes? It must be the high productivity that compensates for the few working hours..
    Following the same logic, a child from Bangladesh that works night and day in sweatshops since he became 8 years old, will one day become a billionaire. Not so likely…A country’s wealth can be attributed to various reasons: the productivity of previous generations, a well-made legal framework that promotes the flow of money, political and social stability, good commercial relationships, pre-existing wealth and many more.
    I see the dutch more as capable of recognizing profitable opportunities and making the most out of them, rather than pure restless hard-workes. And that’s not bad of course..

  57. If god wanted the Dutch to work hard he wouldn’t have created Germans. The reason for our low unemployment is the fact that there is plenty employment found in moving goods to and from Germany. It is why we have built our country here. It certainly wasn’t the weather. We could’ve built it just as easily anywhere else, but a country that is located inbetween Germany and the sea is hard to top.

    • god? created the Germans? built it just as easily anywhere else?… now there’s a series of speculative notions. What is not speculative is that in building that country they did some very hard work…a millennium or so of hard yakka fighting the elements….Few peoples have worked that hard.
      And yes Germany also has seafrontage…

  58. Pingback: Afgestudeerd en dan… burgerlijke taferelen op z’n ‘students’?! | Goudvissen & sluierstaartvissen

  59. Dutch women happy? Don’t be mistaken, most of them are just miserable. You just have to realise that in the Netherlands, showing your weakenesses is just not acceptable.

  60. Dutch women happy? Don’t be mistaken, most of them are just miserable. lol
    Sorry but I agree.

    • Is that why they keep migrating to Australia in droves after being fully qualified and have some years of experience? Here they have to work harder and longer hours. Hay, something is not adding up here… with your story!!!
      Peter, Canberra

  61. I must say I love the controversy this subject stirs up.

    The original article makes the Dutch seem commendable, rather than lazy. In fact, no where do I see the word ‘lazy’ used once (except in the comments). Since productivity is quite high.

    A little tip for everyone: Liking not working is not the same as not liking work. De eerste uitdrukking is het leuk vinden, wanneer je niet aan het werk bent. Het tweede is dat je het werken zelf niet leuk vind.
    And as a Dutchman I’d like to give my tiny 1/16million drop of statistic in the ocean: I love not working. Eating hagelslag, sitting in a park, or strolling by a gracht. I also love working (and finishing on time).

    • On average the Dutch have less vacation days than most other countries in Europe. Only 7 and if any are in the weekend no compensation days. Also the US have a lot more days then we do.

      • TO: “”Someonewhodoeswork””: not correct: The Dutch have legally required paid holidays with a full time job as follows: 4 weeks plus 9 paid public holidays (not compensated if they fall during the weekend).( there ‘s a website comparing most nations on this score.) PBR

      • @peter reynders,

        Sorry but you are wrong and I am right.
        Count them:
        -Newyearsday
        -Easter monday
        -Queensday
        -Ascentionday
        -White monday
        -1st Christmas day
        -2d Christmas day

        That’s 7.

        The 2 other days you mention fall on a Sunday, so for most people that isn’t a paid holiday. Now I now government officials and schools get some extra days, but then again they work really, really hard ;-). However I work in in business and that’s how it is for most people with a paid 40 hour job in NL.

        OMG, Wikipedia is just wrong:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_statutory_minimum_employment_leave_by_country

        People call me stuborn, but I am not. I am just right a lot of the time ;-)

      • Hi Someone who works….( is that Mr or Mrs Or Miss Someone?) …Now compare the situation with here in Australia: ( also from Wikipedia) 4 weeks standard holidays per year, plus 10 public holidays ( when on a Sunday the Monday is off) . 5 weeks for shift-workers (those regularly rostered across a 7 day week). 2 weeks can be “sold” to employer (cashed-out). Additional Long service leave is also payable if not taken. ( long service means working for one employer for 10 years or more, so if you stay less time you don’t get it. It is a leftover from the colonial daya when government workers and other Britain based people were enticed to work in Australia with this LSL provision. Until recvenly we also had a loading of 17% on top of the leave pay, called holiday pay… to encourage people to actually GO on hilidays. This has now been dropped.
        The Australian economy is growing by 4% per annum at present, unemployment is 5.2 % of the labourforce and the Ausdollar is worth about 84 Eurocents). Please realise that the number of days off has little impact on the performance of your economy…A well rested employee performs better. PR

      • @peter_Reynders

        It’s Mr. I agree that a well-rested employee performs better. I was originally commenting on the comedian saying we in NL had so much national holidays, while in reality we don’t.

        So apparently I would need to go down under for that. Still looking for some IT guys down there ;-)?

  62. Rutger: This may be new to you: Comedians are there to laugh about, not to take them seriously.
    And hollidays are they days when people wear holly* in The Netherlands?
    Like at Christmas?
    PR
    *) hulst

  63. Well I’m Dutch and IMHO we in the Netherlands arrange after the second world war a good social securities and benefits packs via Laws, unions, employers because we made sure we could pay for them, this was possible do to the economical rebuild of the country and social government we had at that time(and the debt we have now). But also in the Netherlands these social securities and benefits are changing and not for the better. Especially the medical care and pension cost and age are rising in the Netherlands.

    Also productivity is higher than in the United states, see wikipedia’s Productivity list of countries by GDP (PPP) per hour worked
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_%28PPP%29_per_hour_worked which makes better working hours and paid holidays possible. But where not the once with the most paid/national/bank holidays. See Wikipedia’s List of statutory minimum employment leave by country
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_statutory_minimum_employment_leave_by_country

    IMO the US government nor most people of the upper middle class and the rich are not that social and the never where, otherwise the social securities and benefits where better arranged and unions for workers where never suppresses in the past. Even now government and employers are not that keen about social securities and benefits. According them they cost them too much. This do to the fact that medical care(hospitals, doctors and medicine) and insurances are ridiculously expensive in the USA and caused by the fact that everybody want to get rich by asking to much money for some services(and this happens world wide.) or Suing each other for the simple things and asking for ridicules amount of money for damages(which is more an American philosophy).
    Welcome to America the land of the opportunity, as long as you are willing to take other people’s money the in more then one way,

    It seems we are going backwards in this world and the rich get richer and poor get poorer and social securities and benefits which are not existing or are undone along the way, this is a worldwide problem.

  64. I’m totally fed up with Services in The Netherlands!
    Besides the fact that the work LESS they work BADLY!
    I’ve been living here for 3 years and I was never happy with ANY service:
    Telephone companies, Real State Agencies, Courses, Restaurants…
    First of all there is no comsumer law in The Netherlands and if there is, nobody
    knows because the Dutch people just accept every shit service because they don’t know how
    to complaim and the employees get extremely angry if you telll them that they did something wrong.
    Once I was in a restaurant in Amsterdam with my husband and I asked the waitress for french fries and meat.She brought me baked potato and meat.I told my husband that was not what I asked and I asked kindly to exchange it.The girl started almost to yell at me that she heard baked potatoes and kept on blaming me for her mistake.I’ve noticed this reaction is so soooo Dutch, because Dutch people
    think they are perfect and if they make a mistake the first think they do is to blame somebody else.
    Of course I’ll NEVER ever come back in this restaurant and I’ll tell the whole world this history
    and I really hope this shit go bankrupt! It was a Uruguayan restaurant at the Leidseplein but the waitress were 100% immature Dutch students.
    Last year I decided to learn Dutch because as I plan to live here longer I think It’s very important to learn the language of the country you live so I started a course the teacher even didn’t test my level
    and as I told I could understand a lot of Dutch but I can’t speak she told…Ok You’ll go to advanced level.I was very surprised.As I’m good in languages I could follow the classes but this teacher was
    a hippie gradma and all the texts she brought to us to read were about WAR, DEATH or VERY SAD histories.How can you have motivation to learn another language like that?I was going out of this classes almost cutting my wrists…If you are a teacher you need to motivate your students that`s how I learned English and I had really lots of fun!
    At the moment my husband and I are looking for a new apartament.We saw a nice one on the Internet,
    we sent an Email, we called and they told us today they would call back today.Of course they didn`t.
    I`m not surprised.I wonder what they do during 8 hours of work.Maybe Hyves, Facebook or looking at Marktplaats (Like the Dutch people where I work do).
    I work on a international company with people from many nationalities.We all get along very well, except with some Dutch people.
    Last month a new company started to work in the same building as the company I work for.
    We heard from a Dutch new employee of this new company that he thinks it`s terrible to work with so many buitenlanders (foreigns).
    But he told it to somebody he thought was Dutch but the person actually comes from Africa (but lives in NL since she was a kid and has no accent speaking Dutch) and she was very pissed with this comment.
    But her reaction was the best ever:
    Sorry but in this company if it was not our mother languages (for the 99% of the International clients), our charisma and good service this company wouldn`t exist.Of course he couldn`t say a word.
    How more I stay here more I dislike some aspects of the Dutch culture.
    Dutch people can be smart, intelligent but this image of tolerant and free country is just a stupid bullshit to bring some tourists to Amsterdam.
    Many of my foreign friends who live here have the same opinion as I have.
    My husband is Dutch and he also agrees with me.
    They don`t like to work, some are rascist (like the one I mencioned), not friendly, not nice and stubborn.
    Sorry for the Dutch ones that are an exception but until now I only met about 5 really nice Dutch people and these ones OF COURSE lived abroad or went abroad and got some positive vibrations from “Warmer countries“.

    • Wow.. you have issues. You get what you give. If you write all of this down in such a manner, you’re likely to treat people smilarly, and then it’s no wonder why “all the Dutch are such terrible people”. Maybe you should not judge an entire society by one waitress and one teacher. I don’t understand all these comments with “you Americans” and “you Dutch” anyway. We’re still individual people making our own choices.

      PS On topic: who cares how many hours people work ON AVERAGE, because that’s what this is. We’re pretty wealthy and happy over here; I guess that goes for the USA as well. But just for the ones calling us lazy (I don’t understand how working hours is the only factor determining laziness, but that could be just me I guess), our system is not that bad. I lived in the States, Sweden, Belgium and obviously the Netherlands as that is where I come from, but we have lower unemployment rates, lower teen pregnancy rates, less drug addicts (don’t even get me started on drug policies), etc ON AVERAGE. Something must be going right here. However, entrepreneurial mindset is a whole lot better in the States, students are actually rewarded for getting A’s and so on.

      So here’s an idea: Why not stop bashing each other and enjoy are happy time off? (no matter how many minutes, hours or days a week that would be :))

    • Every single word is true . Well done Sylvia for coming out and speaking the truth .
      Of course the people of this country will not like you for it because they have no self-awareness , empathy or notions of politeness and fairness.

      • @Colin
        perhaps go home is an option for you?

        A lot of Dutch people are sick from the foreigners as well, especially the fake British not dare to say what he means “actors”.

        Forcing the dutch to change to “your” English standards is laughter to the dutch. History repeats. Typical, the English never learn.

  65. True, Dragonetti, the productivity is very high. Because Dutch people work so few hours, they have to work harder per hour to achieve the same productivity as in other countries. And as you have shown, productivity is higher than in the US, where people work much more hours. So it’s not fair to say Dutch people are lazy. In fact: looking at the very low number of working hours per week + high producivity, I am quite amazed they are not all staying home with a burn-out!! :P

  66. I do respect people working part time so they can have more (leisure) time for them-self or their family, but I despise people who do this on their own choice but still taking all the government subsidies that are paid from my tax money.
    I don’t see myself as the most efficient at work, but when I first came to NL, my Dutch co-workers praised me for being efficient…while in my opinion “some” of them were just not being reliable at work. On the other hands I know some Dutch co-workers that work really hard and good at it as well, so I guess you can’t really generalize.
    I kinda like the Dutch socialist system as it will help providing safety net for people with disabilities or involuntarily unemployed, but Ive seen it being abused so many times that I think that honest members of society are getting irritated. I’m afraid that at some point it might be taken away just because of these abusers and the people in real need will be the one to suffer.

    • You keep saying, over and over again, that only “some” of your Dutch coworkers are not lazy. As all of my friends, my family and my coworkers, I work hard, on paper only 32 hours, but in an average year I will work 2 to 3 weeks of overtime. I will take work home, that I do not even register, since I have to take those hours off, and a colleague will have to fill in for. Also, the Dutch, on average only have 30 minutes of lunch time, will not count their traveling time towards their work hours, and if commuting by public transport, will often be seen working. They will answer their phones and emails while on vacation, and will not count that towards their average working hours either. So, there’s your passion for their work.
      Most of us don’t call in sick when we stub our toe either. And as I understand it, American companies rather send you home with a case of the sniffles, lest you infect the whole department! Please keep from assuming we are all lazy, subsidized, advantage-taking no-gooders, assuming is after all, the mother of all F-ups!

      • Kentong….If you don’t consider yourself to be the most efficient worker, than shut the fuck up!

      • Well said Bertine, Keep at it! Yes the Dutch have a great work ethic. But there is more. They have controlls!.
        For exmpale:
        Which country has a doctor sent to your house when you claim to be sick again and again, to see if you are really sick? Yes The Netherlands! And the medico is paid for by the employer. The institution providing the Doctor, is called the G.A.K. ( don’t ask me what it stands for, but I know what KGB means) Another reason why the incidence of lost paid working hours is low in Holland. It is the Dutch secret weapen in being competitive. Try instituting that in Greece… Cheers! That blows all the above arguments that the Dutch are even allowed to be lazy… out of the water…

        The other good thing of the system is that people who are sick actually get to see a doctor who will recommend treatment…that gets them better.
        PR Canberra
        Australia

  67. To me it seems you’ve mixed up 2 things. You seem to think that people in NL work for 30,8 hours. (which i agree: is little) but I think what you should say is that they are paid for 30,8 hours.
    In my organisation there’ s is no employee with a contract over 32 hours a week. But there is also no employee that does NOT exceed 32 hours of work. Working overtime without pay is pretty common. The sunny side of it is that our boss is very flexible in regard to taking leave and working at home. She knows over all she gets more than she pays for. Its a good deal. I get less pay, but more autonomy

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  69. dutch ppl can enjoy free time, because eastern europeans doing all jobs instead, taking over hours, never asking free days for fun as dutch do. Actually for me is a secret how they surviving here with part time salary? According personal experience live costs are enough high in NL. Unless those “lucky”partimers living under bridges or social support houses and driving buckets(cars with 1.2l engines)/bycicles.

    • Don’t accuse Dutch people of not wanting to do certain jobs eastern europeans do just because some companies prefer hiring them instead of us. I’m currently unemployed and I wouldn’t mind working as a cleaner or working in a greenhouse, but all off those jobs are taken bij eastern european people in the city I live in.

      • This preference only for the “black” jobs. For good jobs as in management/offices eastern europeans and others non-dutches are not welcom. And nobody gives a f*ck that most of eastern europeans are more educated and intelligent.

    • Impreza, I know what you want to say. Well done with what is for you a difficult language , but I don’t agree with what you have to say. Ask yourself: how do I know what I just wrote, where does my information come form? What is the source? Your mate in the pub? : There are no people In The Netherlands living under bridges. And the lucky part timers do not live in social support houses. Yhey have an income and are able to support themselves. The riding of a bicycle is a good thing. It limits air poluution, traffic congestion and it is healthy excercise. get used to the idea that driving a car is actually a bad thing in many ways, if there is an alternative that is not as expensive and damaging. For trips that just need to transport a person fo under 5 km the bicycle should always bne used! AND THE ROAD SYSTEM SHOULD HAVE CYCLEPATHS!
      Another advantage of living in Holland… the country is flat, therefore riding a bicylce is
      easy. PBR Australia

      • how much you can earn as part timer? 900 euros per month? when house rent costs aprox 700 euros, food 250, car belasting 50 per month, fuel and so on. Tell me a secret how they surviving?

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  71. That’s because America is a slave nation, I was amazed that when living in America they only got one day off at Christmas, and they only get two weeks paid holiday a year. They work longer hours but are less productive.

    A quote from BB.C News World http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-11139960

    ‘Nine days of annual leave is what the average American accrues during the course of a year. So you have to be at your job for 12 months before you begin to get even that amount.’

    So I might have been generous with the two weeks. Life is not just about working it is an ethic introduced by the Victorians. Look around and open your eyes to the world you live in and enjoy yourself, life is short,don’t wait till you are retired, when you are most likely too old to do many things you would like to have done when young, it will be to late.

  72. Some people are just not getting it. I have been living here for 17 years now. The Netherlands are one of the richest countries in the world and that for one of the smallest countries in the world. Now they must be doing something right. The Dutch are famous for being SUPER EFFICIENT people. They are so extremely efficient that it comes out of their pores. It is not about the amount of hours you spend at the office. It is getting the work done. Dutch people do twice the amount of work than many other countries. Why? As I said they are practical and efficient, secondly they are given responsibility. People are seen as equals here, hierarchy means “nothing”. Trust is a very important thing in this society and when you give it to your employees they will give it back to you and work hard(er). Now all these things make decision making easier, flexible and people can get to the point. I was in Japan for work and a decision needed to be made, I just made it and called the highest boss of our company to inform him what I was up to. he agreed and we carried on. The Japanese were stunned that I could just do that. In their company it would have taken days, because the boss was not there and everybody else needed to be informed as well and that was their boss his job…blablabla ( I am not critisizing) We don’t have time for that here, my boss would probably be angry with me for waisting company time and I would be seen as weak and afraid to make decisions and not being able to complete my work on time. Now when your company and country works like that, do you really need to spend HOURS and HOURS at the office, doing what exactly.

    • I spend hours and hours at the office solving differential equations and optimizing optical designs. I’m afraid the only way to do my job faster is being able to recognize whether a problem is convex or not (convex as in convex optimization) faster.

      • @ Bella: YES, we are focking special! We drove out the Spanish, fought the French, talked the seas free from the rule of Brittannia, saved innumerous Jews, built country out of water, protect ourselves from the savage sea…. We are special alright! Because when u give us a problem we probably will already have solved it before u finished your sentence!

  73. bullshit yes dutch are lazy but not all i am a welder 38 of years working 55 hours a week, the tax i pay is what other people get there f@cking benefits off too stay at home doing nothing

    • Erwin I am sure you are a good welder. Indeed you enjoy welding because you are good at it. So you should do it. But the tax you pay does a lot more things than just pay for some unfortunate people who need support, as they were not lucky enough to be an employed welder…… it paids for the upkeep of the roads you drive on, the fire brigade, the army, the judges, the police, the parks, the gardens, the representations of the government system that keeps the country running, the football fields, the pipelines that are maintained to get things from A to B ( and may need some welding) the traffic system enz. … thousands of other things. And so, it does all work. When you get old and are in wheelchair, or need medical help someone else’s tax money will support you too. PR
      Austarlia

  74. Well, the french got a reason to “not work” since they always start mass suicide when they have to work more then 50 hours a week.

    Dutch earn enough in 40 hours to live for.
    But enough ppl work more then 40 hours.

    And most immigrants get paid from our taxes, because they prefer drugs dealing instead of working.

    • Allard, not MOST IMMIGRANT deal in drugs, a few may do, but most of them want to work and earn their living legally. If you have information that MOST immigrants deal in drugs: where is it? I am an immigrant. You are not? You should try it, is it is great.
      PR Australia

  75. WHOEVER WROTE THIS MUST BE LOOKING FOR A FIGHT…..
    We work our hours on paper… AND THEN SOME!
    Check out how many Dutch do work as a volunteer! Thats why the schedule is so filled.

    Try asking some question before making conclusions!

  76. And the percentage of working people to the entire population?
    Unemployment rate through the years?
    Did you compare the number of working years per person to the figures of other countries?

  77. haha :) Don’t forget to count that many families have au pairs :) almost free to have one, especially needed when your life is very dutch, and busy :))

    • Wow, I don’t know where you get that idea from. Most of us don’t have au-pairs (unless you’re quite wealthy, because that is so not for free). Working mothers and fathers are actually taking their children out of pre-school facilities, because it has gotten so expensive, making hardly a difference between working and paying for your childcare facilities on hand hand or just staying home with your children and not working on the other hand.

      • I knew a polish girl when I first arrive in the Netherlands who worked as an au pair for a Dutch family. She worked quite a bit and didn’t get paid much and wasn’t too happy. She did a 2nd au pair at an Irish family, and it was a lot better. Not trying to generalize, but if you google au pair abuse in the Netherlands, it doesn’t look too good. It is what it is and in this case, I don’t like it.

  78. I think what drives me nuts about this idea of productivity “per day” is what does it measure? If a country is more productive per day does that mean they have a better standard of living? I don’t think so. Look at the US. Productivity is improving but unemployment is still high! So does that mean employees (i.e. most citizens) are reaping the rewards of increased productivity (as of right now at least)? NO.

    So the bigger question is, for all those people trying to justify their countries productivity, for what are you being productive for? So the haves have more? So you can make a pittance such that your bosses boss can have millions without leaving the house while you don’t see your children? All I’m saying is that people need to start evaluate their lives on their actual goals– beyond the BMW and the other useless toys people lust for for no reason– and build their worklife with real priorities in mind.

    I’m an American and I’d love to live somewhere where they realize that life isn’t just about being productive or making money. Because when we realize that, we can all progressively work less-and-less while letting machines takeover and recreate an alternative to our current system that actually might be better than what we have today. Because if we keep on marching this way, employers will only see employees as inputs like they do blue collar workers and we will get progressively worse off until something dramatic happens.

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  81. One of the aspects that I miss is that dutch people value freetime different than most other people. Freetime has more value for the dutch, and that’s why they have a different balance between work and freetime.

  82. It’s not that the Dutch who are in employment and working fewer hours that bothers me but the number of people in this country who never work at all and live of benefits . I live in an apartment block where only me and one other neighbour bother to get up in the morning to earn our living. Some of them are too ill to work but I regularly hear the main door opening and shutting around midnight as they go into town , just as the nightlife is hotting up!!
    Also , the Dutch people are always either phoning in sick or having to leave early for some kind of medical appointment leaving their colleagues to finish off their work . They are very often part-timers and could have made the appointment for their day-off. ( if the appointment ever existed ) .And the heads of departments are too naive or frightened to ask for verification because then they might have to take action against an employee…..heaven forbid!

  83. I am a dutch born person and moved to canada with husband and kids 11 years ago. I discovered that the dutch people here are very liked to hire because they work hard and efficient. They are reliable and always on time. I won’t say that all canadians are not reliable but they don’t take their job as seriously as the dutch do. Maybe also because we live n Alberta where there is lots of work and people are not panicking when they lose or quit their job. We had a farm our self and hired lots of people..You could never rely on them 100%. They don’t call in sick, they just stay away. And sometimes they come back after 2 weeks and expect to get working again.
    Dutch people on average want to keep their job and do good. If in Holland you have a store that has 3 persons working a day, you wil have 6-7 here….. So maybe they work less hours on average, they work way more efficient.

    • Should anyone be reading this blog one year after this discussion was started: Is it easier to be more “productive” when residents of Nederland don’t have to live in distress at the thought of losing their job due to illness, or wondering how they are going to pay housing rent, or put food on the table should they be let go by their employer? Could this be why the statistics quoted indicate that those in Nederland are more “productive”, and not necessarily as they themselves so modestly declare: We are more efficient (than the French, or whomever is quoted in the latest stats in the news) and work less hours. I heard this on my visit to Holland in September, 2013.
      I was also born in Holland, and raised in Alberta – coming here at a very young age. My Father used to say: Canada is a great country but you need two things – your health and a job. This is so true. Sure, “we” are reliable and on-time; it was how we were raised as immigrant kids. My parents came to this country with $100, no English language and three young children. There was no choice: You wanted to eat? You had to work. You shared rented homes; you provided board-and-room for other people if you were one of the few who owned their own home.
      Even today, If you are sick and unemployed, this would place you in the “panicking” department as there are no benefits to take care of you; companies who provided a sick-benefit insurance program are hard to find and those who do have a long-term illness insurance benefit paid for by the company usually rely on the first 15-weeks of unpaid sick leave to be covered by the government Employment Insurance program. By the way, Alberta is the only (I believe) province that pays for Alberta Health Insurance; Albertans stopped paying premiums a few years ago so visiting a doctor or going to the hospital is free of charge. Of course, you pay for your own medicine, dentist, eye-glasses, unless you pay into a private health-care plan and then you pay a portion of these expenses.
      Employment-insurance sick benefits in Alberta/Canada are limited and for a short period of time, and not enough to cover your normal obligations (15 weeks maximum paid out, and not guaranteed, and up to a maximum of $205/week – before your taxes are deducted – , depending on your salary; if you earned more – too bad: This is the maximum payout for everybody, and you may receive less) – after waiting at least 3-4 weeks before you get your first benefit cheque. http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/ei/types/sickness.shtml#much
      An employer in The Netherlands would never get away with letting a person go when they were recovering from serious surgery; it happened to us, 22 years ago. We didn’t have the money, or health, to move to Holland (he is Dutch) with our four young children, but if we had been able to: We would have been better off. We would truly have been a family who were actually in need of this type of help. You are, indeed, privileged to have been given this safety-net in The Netherlands.
      By the way — the comment about some people not working as hard here in Alberta: Our daughter worked in landscaping during the spring and summer and was working 12-14 hours/day; this is expected as we have limited warm-weather growing season months and: Her employer had a problem with her taking time to go for physiotherapy and Doctor appointments necessary because of a car accident.
      It is true that some people will not show up This is not because they could easily live on on government subsidy; it is most-likely because of Alberta being an oil-producing province; there is work available here where they can be paid a higher per hour salary in an oil-related job than that of working on a farm (I presume), and there is a shortage of labourers living in Alberta and some people are not very polite in communicating that they will not be returning, or do not let a potential employer know that they will not be showing up for their job interview. And, as self-employed farmers, you most-likely don’t have any “unemployment” insurance benefits at all; often business owners do not take out long-term disability insurance — and they should, for their own peace of mind.
      Also, 14 days paid vacation (equal to 4% of gross (before) tax salary after one full-year of employment is the norm here. Maybe — if you can find a company to work for longer than four years, in your fifth year you will get 21 days paid vacation. You can get laid-off without cause, although technically you are to receive two weeks’ notice once you are past a (six-month) probation period. Employers are not obligated to you financially past this two-weeks notice. There is no legal recourse to fight an unjust lay-off – unless you want to pay for your own solicitor’s fees which would basically be impossible for the average person as they are – after all – unemployed, aren’t they, and have no income. Alberta Labour Board has limited powers and really are not there for the benefit of the employees, although this is their stated mandate to represent labour. It can take a year before you have anything resolved through the Labour Board, and then you are informed that they can only handle your concern for the last six months of employment – and only on certain items, and then they advise you that you can consider hiring your own legal counsel for other matters pertaining to your being let go.
      Today – in recent months – I have heard from my husband’s family in Nederland, and my cousins, these words: Nederland is in a recession, or as is more common, a “crisis”. How can this be considered a crises? I suppose that if you are used to everything coming easily; to never worrying about having a roof over your head, or food on your table when being laid off; then when you have “less”, it may appear to be a crises, and I cannot blame a resident of Nederland saying this. However, what a luxury when you can state your opinion on the current “crises” in Nederland while putting your feet up in the living room of your subsidized shelter (in some cases, or for others: getting unemployment benefits), drinking a great cup of coffee and looking forward to your vacation pay that you will be receiving on your cost-of-living subsidy to bring you up to the minimum level of income needed to live in Nederland, as if you were employed — only you are not.
      This all being said: I must say that Nederland has a much more humane system of support for its citizens. Also, I was only away for six-weeks in Europe and when I returned to Alberta, I was in sticker shock. Prices of everyday needs – food and miscellaneous items — including =) inexpensive beer and wonderful wine – is SO much less money in Nederland than buying groceries here in Alberta. We have a very high cost of living. I would say that every-day groceries are about 40% to 50% less costly in Nederland than here in Alberta. We pay a price for our economic “non-crises”.
      We do, however, live in a beautiful big-sky country, here in Alberta but Nederland is a very gezellig place to visit, and – I imagine – live. In fact, we hope to be able to try out living in Nederland – after my husband’s absence of 40 years – to be close to his family, and I’m looking forward to this.

      • Oops! I wasn’t very efficient – lol . The maximum pay-out rates per week are $501 (not $205!) equivalent to approximately 358 Euros. And, I did have a spelling crisis when I spelled “crisis” incorrectly in my first reply.
        Hope everybody in Nederland is enjoying their free time – a cappuccino accompanied by great conversation when getting together with friends or family. =)

  84. Yeah, except this research got it’s facts wrong. Yes, the average will come to about 30 hrs, since many women work part-time to be able to also raise their kids, instead of hiring a nanny or an au pair, which is WAY more common in any other country in the world (I’ve been one). Also, lot’s of companies now apply ‘flex-working’ which allows their employees to work from home. These hours have not been included into the research, so obviously they came to a number that is way too low.
    Having also been a teacher here in the Netherlands, I know that their average comes out way higher than this research. All full-time teaching job contains 42,5 work hours, and those hours do not include parent-teacher nights, all the hours spent correcting, planning, taking work home, making rapport-cards, meetings in the evening and what not. I think a teacher with a fulltime job here averages about 48-50 hrs a week. They do, in return get a lot of weeks off, but hey, American teachers get 3 months in the summer alone. So let them average a few more hours a week huh?
    Also, I agree with Desire, Dutch ppl do work very efficient. Honestly, 99% of the time this blog make me laugh out loud, but this post is a little insulting for a girl working a 32 hr job, babysitting another 10 hrs and maintaining a 10 hr study average every week….

  85. With a lot of interest I have read the article and all the comments (it took me some time!). I am a Dutch woman of 65 who went to Sweden four years ago…… I was/am a Dutch speech- and language pathologist and so – for the first time of my life – I could not work in Sweden. I could not speak Swedish myself let alone correct the speech of the Swedes…. I worked hard all my life,though part time. In the mean time I also raised four children and that is a job too (largely underpaid!)
    I decided to use my free time to learn Swedish. We bought a house with quite a lot of ground around and I like gardening. I bought a sewing machine and started quilting. I tried to find a occupation without paying for one day per week by for instance feeding bad eating children in a home or something else with children. I am good with children. In Sweden EVERYBODY works and if you don’t work everybody pities you. But the point was I Worked! I only did not get paid! I did not need to get paid. The Swedish people got very suspicious when I tried to explain that I did not need to get paid, that I just wanted to do something in return to the country that had shown so much hospitality towards us. Although all salaries in Sweden are based on double income, my husband earned enough money for us both to live on. And now we come to a very interesting point of the Dutch soul and that is that we are satisfied with enough money to live. We don’t have to earn more and more if we can live comfortable with what we have. I don’t want a bigger house, I don’t want a new car when the old one still works and so on…. It does not matter to me that we can not do everything we could do if we had more money. I enjoy eating from my own garden, picking mushrooms in the nearby woods and drying apples from my own yard. But don’t say that I don’t work, it is simply not true! I just did not get paid, that is a difference.
    In the mean time I found a little (paid) job as a teacher in Dutch language and culture for the children of the Dutch colony here. The Swedish society has finally accepted me as a member of society now. I can have a phone abonnement, I can have a bank account of my own without the written consent of my husband that I can use his bank account. I would have taken the job without paying, but I did not tell them of course when they wanted to hire me for money. Here I found out what the rest of the world already knows: you only count if you have a proper paid job. Crazy in my eyes, but I am a stupid Dutch woman for whom work is something you can do or not, but for who it is no absolute must or something essential for your self esteem.

    • Janneke; Your attitude is inspirational! Thank you =) Yes, relationships are what is important – and not more and bigger stuff – and making a difference (contributing) where we are placed.—- Greetings from a Canadian-Dutch gal in Alberta, also with four grown children. I read in your Profile that you have a blog about your experience living — and working =) – in Sweden. Can you post the link for me? Thanks =)

      • baasbraal.wordpress.com I didnot readyour commentbefore, sorry. I placed a new comment (I forgot that I had placed this one already) Can you read Dutch?, because the blog is in Dutch……

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  87. This is funny to me. As a third-generation Dutch-American, I have never seen a lazy Dutchman in America. When I was growing up, there was NO sitting or relaxing. If your work is done, you find more because there’s always work to be done. It’s still that way even though I’m an adult with my own family and children. When my Dutch mama visits, there’s no sitting. There’s cooking, cleaning, gardening, laundry, more cleaning and more cleaning. :) My grandmother and great-grandmother (first generation American) were the same way! No resting, only cleaning. :)

  88. Awesome! Always busy….but always room for one more person; hospitality is part of our Dutch heritage too =)

  89. Dutch
    Four years ago we moved from the Netherlands to Sweden. Before that I was not even aware of this Dutch thing about working ethics. In Sweden it is very important to have a job, if you don’t have one, you are a complete outcast. I have to say i agree very much with CJP when he states that all economic activity :needs not to be explained in gaining money by working. If you clean your own house and paint it yourself,, grow your own food and find it in nature, prepare your own food (instead of buying ready meals or salades), bake your own bread and raise your own children instead of the daycare, you work very hard and gain also money, simply because you don’t spend it. The side effect is that your life and that of your family is more balanced and – I dare say – happier. Who dares to say that you are lazy when you live that way?. Who needs to be rich, when you can live this way so that you have enough to live of? Who needs a second, third or fifth car, a boat or a helicopter, when you have enough means to be happy? Why should you take job to earn money and lose half of your salary to buy ready (expensive and less fresh/healthy food, to have to send your children to daycare where they make long hours without parents? Why should high educated parent go to work so that their children are raised by low educated people?
    An other thing is that my husband and the Japanese guy are the first to come and the last to leave at the university where my husband works. My husband stays home every now and then, but then he works home at his computer or mails and skypes with people all over the world. The American college(with Swedish girlfriend) is totally adapted in Swedish Society: he comes with the Swedes (about half past eight) and leaves with the Swedes (about 4 – PM that is -).
    Before we moved, I thought that all people in the world had the same attitude towards working like all the other Dutch, but here I found out that you only are taken seriously if you have a steady job (that means with a salary). I still can not get that a respectable way of living – making the choice for quality instead of quantity – is so despicable in the eyes of people who think that the only way to be valuable is to work your but of to make as much as possible money! If you want to spend all your time (all your life) to become as rich as possible, be my guest, but don’t you state that one is lazy if he/she makes different choices….

  90. To Jessica VM: I am Dutch and did live in America (Minnesota) for a bit. Your experience with the Dutch work ethic is something that on average does no longer apply to the Dutch in the Netherlands. Your grandmother and great-grandmother took a calvanist approach to life with them to America. That is, your time in life should not be wasted on not working (whether in your household, for an employer, or as an enterpreneur). After World War 2, the Netherlands experienced incredible economic growth and also the growth of a welfare state. Not working no longer means not being able to make ends meet. This system is largely absent in America, or at least not as well “dressed up” as in the Netherlands. For Americans, it continues to be a necessity to work as a means to provide for income. With this, the attitude in American society continues to appreciate and demand a hard working ethic. In the Netherlands, this really only applies to a minority of employees largely working for multinationals.

    I graduated 10 years ago and have always worked for American multinationals in Europe. Why? Because I was raised with that old-fashioned work ethic you saw in your grandmother and great-grandmother. In my family, it is shameful to fall back on state welfare, it is unacceptable to not work fulltime as this will set an example for your children to also not work to the best of their abilities. I have friends who work 4 days a week and spend their day off running around with their kids. When I ask them why, they reply they need to be able to be there while their children grow up… But what about the weekends? In their opinion, two days per week is not enough. So three days apparently is.

    But what is really surprising to me is that my American friends all enjoy what they do, no matter what their position in a company is. Most of my Dutch friends find work a thing they need to do to make money, not necessarily enjoy it. I would like to see them enjoy their work too, as this would increase a healthy work-life balance even if you have to put in more hours.

    I work for an American company in the Netherlands, putting in 60 hours a week. I never discuss the weather, my private life or other stuff not related to my work. I am not there to socialize, as many Dutch people often forget (my apologies for a generalization). In return, I have been able to move up the career ladder fast, increasing my knowledge and market value, enjoying large salary increases every year allowing me to provide for my family and secure a bright future for my children. My quality time with those children is spent on Saturday and Sunday, and I make sure they know their dad is there for them to do fun stuff.

    My wife works 40 hours a week, our children are picked up from school at 5 every day and enjoy a family dinner every night.

    We wouldn’t need any additional time to spend on our children as so many Dutch fellow citizens seem to find necessary. It boggles my mind, especially as we are economically by-passed left and right by upcoming economies. Is the Dutch mentality of today really sustainable in the near future?

    I think not, but then, I am probably too American in my head to even relate to the Dutch on the work floor.

    Just my 2 cents.

    • Ben, you’re not German are you ? :D
      1. kids are more important than work, taking an extra day to have with them is not a bad thing
      2. work can be pleasant, but its still work, not play, so u’r either playing all day, game tester by chance ? or u’re over-stessing the point
      3. i worked for 9 years in the US and can tell you not all of us love our jobs, some do, some do it for the cash, i think this is pretty universal and shouldn’t be over-stressed

    • From what I hear, most Americans love _having_ a job, because without one, they’d be seriously screwed. And maybe they don’t complain as much because they’re more afraid of losing their job. But most Americans I’ve spoken about it, hate quite a lot about their jobs, and would prefer working sane hours and having a sane amount of vacation time (standard is two weeks per year in the US; can you believe that!?).

      I love my work. I do something I love and am good at, and I make good money with it. But I still don’t want to spend insane hours at it. 32 hours a week is plenty.

      The big economic problem of this age is that our system is designed on the assumption that there’s enough work for everyone, when in reality there isn’t. We’ve increased our productivity to the point that we don’t need 40 hour work weeks anymore, and we can’t employ everybody anymore. As a solution, we’ve created lots of useless jobs that don’t actually contribute any value to society. It’d be better if we worked less and spread the income out a bit more.

    • You are completely missing out on reality: many Dutch people are unemployed or work few hours because nobody can afford to pay them, or they aren’t productive enough to go over the minimum wage threshold (the minimum wage is very high, because we choose to have a very high standard of living, even when you are unemployed), and many choose to work less because the extra money has too little value (the utility of money isn’t a linear function of the absolute amount). This is essentially just an artefact of high productivity, along with actually sharing wealth over the population. Surely, in terms of monetary value it may not be sustainable, as that only measures relative productivity to other countries, but as true productivity continually increases, we will have more consumables and products, while working less.

      Regarding “I work for an American company in the Netherlands, putting in 60 hours a week. I never discuss the weather, my private life or other stuff not related to my work. I am not there to socialize, as many Dutch people often forget (my apologies for a generalization). In return, I have been able to move up the career ladder fast, increasing my knowledge and market value, enjoying large salary increases every year allowing me to provide for my family and secure a bright future for my children. My quality time with those children is spent on Saturday and Sunday, and I make sure they know their dad is there for them to do fun stuff.”

      Without networking and talking about your private life, you will hit the glass ceiling at some point in your career. Meanwhile, Dutch children are on average happier, healthier, better educated, etc. compared to the US (happier than in any other country). That didn’t come out of the clear blue sky. Also, it is indeed a erroneous generalization that there are no Dutch people working 60 hours/week, there are loads of them.

  91. WORK is a four letter word, remember that. It is a necessity in most lives. Those who maximise rather than minimise their work hours for the same money (as US citizens seem to be doing) , may have a screw loose… Where one’s work is also one’s hobby that is different of course.
    Peter Reynders, Australia.

    • In the Netherlands we have a saying: “You work to live and you don’t live to work.” But while you work you can better make your time agreable. So there is nothing wrong with someone who enjoys the time he/she is working. You can have actually fun in what you are doing, Your results don’t have to be less less if you enjoy your work in the mean time. It could very well be the other way around.

      • Hi, Baasbraal (+boss-brawl??) That goes without saying, but….Have you forgotted the original subject? The Dutch were blamed for not working long hours, and for choosing to work shorter hours than Americans etc., where they could survive on less hours pay… I think it is great, if you have a system that allows one to do that. Happiness does not equal hours worked, with many jobs. It also depends on the pay.
        Slavery ( even doing work dat ones ”likes”) has been made illegal for between 1 and 2 centuries now, so work has to be paid. The key and ”winning” argument at the time was not just that it was unhuman, but that people would be more productive if they would be paid and work ”voluntarily”…( note: the various holy books still do not condemn slavery as a crime….so it used to be considered a normal, acceptable phenomenon, by the moral leaders of society. Now, there’s a new direction for the discussion)

  92. @Peter Reijnders: The one is related to the other. If you love your job and all levels in the company are equally valuedl, you work more efficiënt. And then you get the job done in less time. That is the secret behind efficëncy.
    Citate:
    “The Dutch are famous for being SUPER EFFICIENT people. They are so extremely efficient that it comes out of their pores. It is not about the amount of hours you spend at the office. It is getting the work done. Dutch people do twice the amount of work than many other countries. Why? As I said they are practical and efficient, secondly they are given responsibility. People are seen as equals here, hierarchy means “nothing”. Trust is a very important thing in this society and when you give it to your employees they will give it back to you and work hard(er). Now all these things make decision making easier, flexible and people can get to the point.”
    On the other hand: if you are treated like someone who would not work hard fi the boss would not control you all the time, if they expect you to be totally devoted to your job and if not you’re a lazy bump, you will not be able to work hard while you are on the job. Consequently you have to work longer hours with lots of resistance to get the job done…
    Citate:
    “But most Americans I’ve spoken about it, hate quite a lot about their jobs, and would prefer working sane hours and having a sane amount of vacation time (standard is two weeks per year in the US; can you believe that!?)”.

    • To Baasbraal : Agree. Then there is work ethic, which is not translated into hours but in achievement. I just wonder where your first citation ended…PR

    • Wow, as an American, I’m so envious of your reasonable hours. At my job, it’s normal to work 70 hours every week. Anyone working only 40 would be fired immediately, even if they got everything done. Why? Because employers think that if you have any free time, it should be spent working. Ridiculous, right?

      I don’t mean to complain, because I’m so grateful to have a job at all, but it sucks that Silicon Valley American society thinks you’re a lazy worthless human if you “only” work 40 hours a week.

      Ok enough of my whining! :P

      • hey Kelly +1 here, I know what you mean, God forbid ur efficient and finish too soon, then you are lazy for not doing more work, even though someone else may be doing same work in 80 hours ..
        I so hate this to be honest,, paid by hour really, thats why most people have no motivation to be efficient and just do the necessary to fill the hours
        movie officespace comes to mind :D

      • No I am not writing from Holland, my yankee friend, but from Australia.

         I seem to recall that the US fought a war over the abolition of slavery. And that it was won and abolished. From your text it seems that it was all fought for nothing because employers there still not seem to get the message and employees let themselves be treated as suckers. You should try democracy where everybody* votes ( like here).

         Cheers  peter reynders * i.e. one must vote – by law, or at least turn up at the polling booth, although then submitting an unvalid vote will not be fined, as many people do it – probably inadvertently)

  93. Pingback: No. 55: Being happy | Stuff Dutch People Like

  94. Very simple, I work to live and do not live to work.
    I like spending time out of the office..:)

  95. hahahaha what bull shit is this….. :)
    I live in Holland, i’m Landscaper and i work 40 hours a week, just like many other people, but lot’s of female people work part time, 20 hours a week to care for the children at home or as they say “i have hobby’s you know”.

    But we gonna have elections soon, so i red in the paper that the greens are comming with a 4 day work week, so 32 hours a week.

    The people who are lazy are the one’s with the most hours a day, they do the same as we do in 8 hours a day but insted in 10 or 12 hours ;)

  96. Why do you want to work more than 40 hours when the same amount of work can be done in less time? Stupid American people (or do they have a bad marriage?)

  97. As a Dutch teacher I do not recognize my collegues and myself in this blog. We officially work 40 hrs per week and onofficially review and grade at least another 10 hours per week. During official holidays we are expected to upgrade your content, rethink courses and/ or publish. As a single mom of three I cannot afford working parttime.
    Partime working women are satisfied with partime salaries versus very high cost of childcare and a working partner.
    And yes we are happy moms

  98. I’m Dutch, I like my job, I like my employer, I like my income, I’m able to pay my bills, I enjoy my life, I work 40 hours a week (not more, no overwork), I have about 35 holidays per year, I’ve great hobbies, I don’t care about luxury and status. I feel I pay in the Netherlands the highest taxes in the world.

    Summarizing: I’m happy, satisfied and I live a stressless live.

    Why does somebody need to work more hours than I do or the average Dutch does? My motto: tomorrow there will be another day. Carpe diem!

  99. I left NYC to marry a Dutch person. Since I’ve been working in the Netherlands, I work far fewer hours (32) than NYC (50), and have 15x the money in the bank. I barely work! The Dutch expect you to have a life outside of work which is lovely. The downside is all of these PT workers are only available a few days a week and things that could be attended to quickly or resolved quite easily get tossed by the wayside or forgotten. I don’t see this as “efficient” at all. In fact I’m constantly chasing down unfinished projects and tying up loose ends for the PT people. Then I wonder why they even bother having a job. Frankly, a PT worker = PT commitment or a complete lack of one.

    Dutch business meetings are absolute hell for me. How long can we mindfuck one topic and never arrive at a DECISION? The answer is HOURS. The Dutch spend a huge amount of time in “overleg” but seemingly never arrive at a decision. This is unthinkable to me. Our NYC meetings; we’d get there and discuss 1. what is the problem, 2. how can we fix the problem, 3.what is our action plan. DONE. 4. Follow up next week. I really miss that… but then I remember that I get paid tons of money and have 5 weeks of vacation, so I suck it up.

  100. Dear Writer ,

    I live in the Netherlands , i am Dutch , work 6 day,s a week 9 hrs a day .
    Do i live in the wrong place , can you tell me what i do wrong in this country

  101. Sorry to burst the bubble, but South Africans work the least time they are more on strike and when at work they either talk or smoke or wait or go to toilet or are on lunch or tea brake…but work ai kona man that is for the rich people to pay for us..HAVE A NICE DAY!

  102. There is no possible way that the average American teacher works average 53hrs/week! They get off at 3 o’clock. They’re gone from the campuses by 3:30. They have a ridiculous number of collaborative days on which they are not on the campus. They have summer break off. They have spring break off. They have Christmas break off. There is no way the unions would allow them to work that many hours. Maybe based on how much they complain people think that they work that much, but I’d like to see one of those teachers do a high tech job in Silicon Valley where they’re working well over 54 hours per week. Please! What a poor choice of demographic to use as an example of hard-working Americans. Americans are incredibly hard-working compared to the EU nations. But, while hard working, teachers are not the hardest working demographic in this country.

  103. But therefore we, the Dutch, have to ‘work’ untill 67 years of age before we can enjoy our retirement. *_*

  104. Don’t any of you “Dutchies” worry about these snide Americans. The truth is American workers are not as productive as they think – just walk into any government run office. American workers are also very rude. Laziness isn’t more prevalent in one ethnic group or another, either (though some would have you believe this). Americans just never leave America so they don’t realize just how lazy and unproductive they really are. If it were possible, I’d rather be in the Netherlands all the time. It’s one of the most fun countries with some of the most genuinely friendly people. I won’t ever give up my US citizenship – because that IS more valuable than any other – but living here will show you that it’s NOT the greatest country in the world but rather one of the better ones.
    Hup Holland Hup!!!!!

  105. …… and when you are very a experienced and efficient worker you become ZZP-er. In less time you earn more money to get extra ‘not working time’. :-)

  106. 2 striking things here:
    1) The number of comments from dutch women refute this statistic – typically spoilt!
    2) The tax is so high in NL that no-one is motivated to work more hours than they need. Why would anyone work an extra 10 hours a week only to get paid for 5? I think even americans can agree with that.

    Having said that it appears that an average tax rate of 46% (as in NL) creates a happier life than the life of an average western cultured worker. I’m no socialist though and I live in NL and I’m NOT happy ( But probably because I work more than the average number of hours and pay full tax).

  107. Quate: ”Working less is simply better”.
    This statement is true. Dutch people are working less, but have a better productivity. Because of a good balance between working time and free time, Dutch people can focus better on their work. When this balance would be disturbed, productivity would decrease. When working most of the time, concentration will be lesser, which will eventually lead to lesser production.

  108. “Dutch people are working less, but have a better productivity.” Maybe that’s true but we still only get paid for the working hours were working not for what our productivity is.

    And I agree with Neil,m we need to pay a lot of taxes over that money so it isn’t really paradise here.

  109. i can understand the figures, we do have some circumstances. we either work 40 hours or more, a normal work week is 40 hours. or in the government 23-32 (as they cliam), then we have the part timers due to children, or simply there is no work for more then 20 (lot of administrative jobs are like that. or a stay at home dad / mom. Most families are 1 x 40 hours and 1 x part time 20 hours.yeah that averages to about 30 something hours nation wide. Daycare for children is $$$$$$$$$$ everything is $$$$ even working you pay taxes, work more pay more as high as 60%.

  110. Pingback: No. 61: Football (World Cup time!)