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Southern Europeans work more, longer than Germans: study

09 June 2011, 22:57 CET
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(PARIS) - Southern Europeans work more and longer than Germans, a study said, debunking recent comments made by Chancellor Angela Merkel that workers in debt-mired Greece, Spain and Portual are lazy.

A statistics-based report published by French bank Natixis chief economist Patrick Artus said Germans worked less annually and during their lifetime than Southern Europeans, and did not work more intensely than their neighbours either.

The study, based on OECD and Eurostat figures, said a German's average annual work duration (1,390 hours) was substantially lower than for a Greek (2,119), an Italian (1,773) a Portuguese (1,719) and a Spaniard (1,654).

A French person works 1,554 hours per year, said the study which was published on Monday.

"Germany's productivity per head remains close to the average of southern European countries. Its hourly productivity rate is above average but not better than France or Greece," the study added.

Although the legal retirement age is older in Germany -- currently 65 years set to rise to 67 -- the Portuguese and Spanish work longer. Their real retirement ages are 62.6 and 62.3 respectively, against 62.2 for Germans.

The real retirement age for Greeks is 61.5 but that is expected to rise to 63.5 by 2015 following the government's austerity programme to raise the legal retirement age to 65 from 60.

Only the French (60 years) and the Italians (60.1) currently retire two years earlier on average than the Germans, the study also said.

Last month Merkel hinted that southern Europeans take too much holiday and retire too early, sparking outrage across the continent.

"In countries such as Greece, Spain and Portugal, people should not retire earlier than in Germany. Everyone should make similar efforts a little bit more. It's important," she said.

Artus, the author of the Natixis report wrote: "Angela Merkel does not show the real problems of the southern countries of the eurozone."

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