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Low Tax Rates And High Divorce Rates Help Explain Why Americans Work More Than Europeans: Report

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Worker Jose David, of Revere, Mass., left, trims the sole of a shoe during the assembly process at the New Balance Athletic Shoe, Inc. factory in Boston, Tuesday, May 1, 2012.
Worker Jose David, of Revere, Mass., left, trims the sole of a shoe during the assembly process at the New Balance Athletic Shoe, Inc. factory in Boston, Tuesday, May 1, 2012.

Why do Americans work 30 percent more than Europeans?

It has a lot to do with America's lower tax rates and higher divorce rates, which combined account for 58 percent of the difference in hours worked, according to a new study. (H/t The New York Times' Binyamin Appelbaum.)

Men in the U.S. work more than men in Europe in part because European tax rates are largely higher and more progressive than American tax rates. In other words, in Europe, the more money a worker makes, the more they pay in taxes, which may reduce an employee's incentive to work more, the researchers argue.

As for women, American women work more than women in Europe in part because the divorce rate is higher in the U.S., the study found. The increased likelihood of divorce in America accounts for 24 percent of the difference in hours worked among women. The study's authors argue that since the guarantee of a husband's income is less stable in the U.S., American women are pressured to gain work experience to be able to survive on their own.

Americans work longer hours, take fewer vacation days, and retire later than workers in the rest of the developed world, including Japan, according to ABC News. Americans work nearly 10 weeks per year more than Germans, according to OECD data cited by Mother Jones.

There are a few other factors that may help explain why Europeans work less than Americans. Labor unions are more powerful in Europe than in the U.S., so they're able to get employers to agree to shorter work days and longer vacations for their workers. Western European countries also offer more generous unemployment benefits, which may reduce the incentive for some jobless people to look for work.

Around the Web

Why Europeans Work Less Than Americans - Forbes.com

BBC News | World | 'Americans work longest hours'

Who works the longest hours in Europe? | News | guardian.co.uk

Is America Overworked?

The Three Faces of Work-Family Conflict - Center for American ...

Working time - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Secondary Sources: US-Europe Work Hours, War on Data, Factory Puzzle

Study: Higher divorce rates make American women work harder