Americans Work Harder/Happier Than Europeans

We’re often told that Americans aren’t as happy as Europeans because Europeans vacation more, work less and enjoy more government benefits. Yet now it appears as though that old adage may be more the wishful thinking of Europhiles and liberal politicians enamored with Europe’s big-government, socialist policies than actual fact.
Because the facts are that most Americans like their jobs, and Americans tend to be much happier than their European counterparts.
As per Arthur Brooks, most Americans like their jobs:

…an amazingly high percentage of us like our jobs. Among adults who worked 10 hours a week or more in 2002, the General Social Survey (GSS) found that 89% said they were very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with their jobs. Only 11% said they were not too satisfied or not at all satisfied.

And it doesn’t matter if that job is a “good” one or a “bad” one:

No doubt there is great job dissatisfaction among people with low incomes and little education–the folks working in factories and on farms; the people who sell you socks and serve you lunch–right? Wrong. There is no difference at all between those with above- and below-average incomes: nine in 10 are satisfied, as are people without college degrees. 87% of people who call themselves “working class” are satisfied.

Plus, we’re happy with our work schedules and amount of time off:

But even if we are satisfied with our jobs, might we still be happier at the beach? Imagine asking people something like this: “If you were to get enough money to live as comfortably as you would like for the rest of your life, would you continue to work or would you stop working?” Certainly a high percentage would answer in the affirmative? Wrong again: In 2002, the GSS found that number to be less than a third of all workers. And once again, there is no difference between those at different levels of income or education. 69% of working class folks say they would keep working even if they didn’t have to.

And we’re also just happier in general compared to Europeans:

according to the 2002 International Social Survey Programme across 35 countries, 56% of Americans are “completely happy” or “very happy” with their lives, versus 44% of Danes (often cited in surveys as the happiest Europeans), 35% of the French and 31% of Germans. Those sweet five-week vacations and 35-hour workweeks don’t seem to be stimulating all that much félicité. A good old-fashioned 50-hour week might be a better option.

It’s hard to say how much of this can be accounted for by simple cultural differences. Americans are very career-orientated, much more so than Europeans, and we just like to work and be industrious. But I also wonder if the sort of intrusive government that comes with cradle-to-grave entitlements and mandated early retirements/ample vacation time isn’t what is making Europeans less happy than us. I mean, a 35 hour work week and mandated vacations/early retirement sound nice, until you get a look at the sort of taxes you have to pay in order to support those sort of policies. Not to mention the impact it has on the economy (most European nations have unemployment rates that are the double of America’s).
At the end of the day, there’s a lot that’s pretty great about America’s relatively limited government and emphasis on self reliance. So the next time you hear some sniveling liberal tell you that America should be more like Europe, tell him or her that you’d rather keep your current level of happiness.

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  • James Taylor

    OK that pool was done in 2002. Now is the other way around.

    Europe lifestyle is much
    better and they live longer. Right there would make you be happier at work.  WHo needs a huge US home that is built
    very expensive with cardboards?  A strong wind will bring it down. HOmes
    in Europe are built to last more over  1,000 yrs and their homes also have
    all the amenities that you get here like ac,  washer and dryer?  
    Also you YOu dont see Europeans dying. They got better medical health care
    “FREE.”  I worked  there in Spain  for 7 yrs and for sure I didnt have to
    wait that long if a surgery was needed. Is the same as the USA, but her only if
    you can afford it which most can’t. 
    And for any non emergency visits if you call any doctor in the USA you
    may wait a week or 3 before they have an opening the same as in Europe.  

    Someone told me once  “I didnt find TylenolPM in
    Italy.”   But that person forgot that she wasn’t longer in the USA
    and instead Europeans have other medications.  Is  like an Italian or any other Euro folk coming to the
    USA looking for their home made medicine. If you know the language and custom
    of those nations then you can find what you need. Again, are Europeans dying?
    NOPE. Their  life span is much
    longer than what you got in the USA. WIsh I could go back to Spain or Italy.
    FOod is also much better there than here.

    IN Europe shops in the
    middle of the day closed so they can go home, eat with their family and
    children and relax.


    Family and social issues
    comes first to Europeans. IN the USA war ,guns and greed are numero uno. 

    ALso the USA, google it,
    have one of the worse educational systems than any nation in Europe or
    industrialized country in the world. 

    IN Europe you find better
    cars than in the USA. I dont need to schooled you on names. Europe also do have
    better mass transportation. IN Spain, France, Italy their trains are much
    better, modern, and faster. 

    Stay in the USA and shop
    24/7.. Maybe that is one of the reasons so many people in the USA are so


    So I rather pay $10 per
    gallon than $10,000 and up for a small surgery which is free to them. OR be
    able to send my kids to a much better Europ school for free. Even our expensive
    20-30K year  USA HS have much lower
    degree of education than any free school in Europe. MEaning our kids are pretty
    dumb next to their kids. THose kids can master 2 or 3 languages and know world
    history and geography, calculus and chemistry. While our kids will tell you more
    about Lady Gaga and Cristina Aguilera. 

    ANY way most folks in the
    USA wouldnt be able to afford Europe at all while they are able to travel to
    the USA and the rest of the world for 3-4 weeks. SO money wise  who is

    Someone else wrote, “The U.S. has one of the unhealthiest/most
    stressed/unhappy working populations among first-world countries.  Our
    values are all messed up.”