OECD working hours

There\’s a new OECD report out and they\’ve a special chapter on something I\’ve been banging on about for years. When you talk about working hours you\’ve got to add unpaid, domestic, labour to the paid market work that most of us do.

So they do exactly this, to give us total working hours:


As you can see, we don\’t have the \”longest working hours in Europe\”, not even close. One fun fact:

Shopping also makes up a big part of unpaid work. Most people in OECD countries spend 23 minutes a day shopping, with the French spending the most (32 minutes)

Yup, see, all those small shops the French use, those vibrant high streets and everything? Adds to the working day, doesn\’t it? Which is what makes those nef reports so much fun. They keep telling us we must work less. They also keep telling us we should shop local. But shopping locally increases work…..

This also applies to such as the \”slow food\” movement. That\’s work you know:

Americans spend the least daily time cooking per day (30 minutes) and Turks the most in the OECD (74 minutes).

13 thoughts on “OECD working hours”

  1. “working hours you’ve got to add unpaid” … well now, I like to split things up, there’s

    1: work done for the benefit of others that is exchangeable – “normal” work.

    2:work done for the benefit of others that is not exchangeable – eg social work.

    3:work done for one’s own benefit (by definition not exchangeable). – eg shopping.

    There’s something special about 1, just try paying a socialist tax bill (or any other tax bill or any other bill) with any but the rewards of 1.

    Work types 2 and 3 are important, but work type 1 is what makes the world go round.

  2. I’m sorry, but you are wrong on this. Cooking and shopping are only work where they are necessary. I do not need to do any shopping, i could buy online in seconds and have everything delivered. I do not need to do any cooking, I could easily eat out or have someone cook for me. However, I go shopping and cook most days because I enjoy it and it helps me disconnect from work. Cooking and shopping are are pastime.

  3. To expand on johnny bonk’s point, those socialist tax bills are proportionate to income from (1) but not (2) or (3).

    I made a tongue in cheek suggestion related to this elsewhere once – noting that if you hire a prostitute, the prostitute has to (in theory) pay tax on the income generated, whereas if you go to a bar and pick someone up, as no money changes hands you get something for free. In fact if you do it right, both parties profit from the exchange in a very Adam Smithian fashion.

    There is of course here huge untapped taxation potential here. So all casual and other unremunerated sexual encounters should be registered, stored in a database and added to your annual tax return. And since this process is generally considered to produce a greater return than the “hired help” option, it should be treated as nominal income of more than the cost of half an hour with a whore. For both parties.

    Similar logic can then be applied to all the unremunerated work you do for yourself or your dependents. If you’ve done your own tiling, fitted your own lights, mown the lawn and so on, that’s 40% of the value added to the taxman – calculation based on what skilled labour would otherwise have cost you. Feeding and dressing your own child – tax that at nanny rates. Getting up at 2AM to feed, change wet bedsheets, reassure a nightmare-afflicted child – it’s all work, and work you do because of the benefit and you surely owe a share of that benefit to society.

  4. JamesV, yes, you’ve just proved that income tax is slavery.

    (This doesn’t apply to Land Value Tax, which is rent!)

  5. widmerpool – but then you could say the same about paid work: “find a job you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life”.

  6. I’m not sure French food shops are smaller on average than the UK – more supermarkets and far more hypermarkets?

  7. Shopping counts as unpaid work?

    This is getting silly.

    I probably spend as long each taking a dump as I do shopping; does that count as unpaid work too?

    If not, why not?

  8. I would regard shopping, even routine food shopping, as half leisure activity, half work. Food preparation and cooking likewise. On the other hand, domestic chores such as washing and cleaning are entirely work.

  9. JamesV:

    It’s no laughing matter. There are quite a few who believe such unpaid work represents an almost criminal inroad on income-tax revenue.

    Hillary Clinton (while Wm. was in the WH) was quite voluble on the subject.

  10. Andrew Duffin – arguably. Although the matter is work that you can’t get someone else to undertake while you do other things with your time, while someone can go shopping for the whole household, or a household could even hire a personal assistant to do the shopping.

  11. The government here (Germany) is quite hot on collecting taxes on “benefits in kind”, whether it’s a company car, air miles etc.- stuff with no actual price tag but which produces some calculable benefit. I heard a story of a Danish pensioner who swapped a few fish he caught with vegetables grown by a neighbour and landed in hot water with the revenue. In the UK there was a case of two policepersons who got in trouble for taking care of each others kids while the other worked.

    And truth told, I see absolutely no reason why wealth-creating activities that do not involve exchange of money should be exempt from taxation. If we did tax neighbourhood good deeds, mutually beneficial childcare arrangements, DIY and so on for the wealth-creating activity it is perhaps a lot of socialists would start realising that wealth is about more than just money. There is an awful lot of unmeasured and outright unmeasurable production going on. And almost certainly more of it goes on when the official economy shrinks.

  12. @JamesV: “In the UK there was a case of two policepersons who got in trouble for taking care of each others kids while the other worked. ”

    That was not a tax matter, it was due to our absurd child-protection laws; they hadn’t ticked the right boxes to be qualified to look after “other peoples’ ” children – even though, iirc, the two mothers involved had been childhoold best friends and had known each other closely all their lives.

    This is what you get when you let the State into personal matters.

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