Oh dear

Yet another report not noting the obvious:

Britain is the worst place in Europe to live despite offering the biggest salaries, a study reveals today.

High incomes in the UK are cancelled out by long working hours, poor annual leave, rising food and fuel bills and a lack of sunshine.

Note firstly that this is not exclusive to the Mail. It comes from uSwitch and is all over the papers.

And it\’s wrong. For their measure of working hours is only market working hours. They do not include home production hours.

Now it is true that there are quite large differences in market workling hours across these countries. But there are also quite large variations in home production hours too. And they tend to move against each other. More market working hours leads to fewer (at the same rough level of wealth) home production hours.

What we should be measuring (as that nice report from Mssrs. Stiglitz and Sen, Nobel winners both, says) is leisure hours. And in that the UK does rather well actually.

We don\’t have the longest working hours in Europe, no where near.

4 comments on “Oh dear

  1. I am not convinced by that .

    1-Home production includes , as I understand it , teaching your children to play the Piano cooking and decorating . It is pretty obvious that if you live in a Siesta country or are a teacher , then you life will be full of such enticing peccadilloes. They are not to be confused with work though in fact a lot of people would call it leisure
    2-The cost of accommodation in this country is the major problem , especially family housing . This either adds hours in commuting and /or cuts dramatically into your budget rendering international tax code comparisons highly misleading.
    3- You get endless leisure if you work for the state as well as usually be located where your housing is relatively cheap . Take Newcastle where over half the quids earnt are state vouchers . They have lovely time of it but this is not replicated in the long suffering South East.
    4- I appreciate that there area lot of family businesses on the Continent where work and home converge . These however are of long standing and are satisficing . There is less pressure if your boss is your mother …
    5- I do not believe the amount of unpaid overtime done in the private sector us properly counted in this country where we have a dominant SME sector where your conditions get re negotiated every day , ( if you want to keep your job and you do not work for your mother )

    So all in all I am not sure master Timothy is quite right there

  2. As Newmania points out, further down the article/rehashed press release, it says that higher housing costs soak up most of the higher earnings. It’s Ricardo’s law of rent in action – because we savagely limit new home-building, higher incomes just flow to the least elastic factor, i.e. land/housing and everybody’s just running to keep still.

  3. This week the Economist has an article about suicide rates in France being the highest in Europe, are these included in the stats?

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