Dutch work fewer hours than other EU workers

Stock image of a female worker (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Peter van der Sluijs)Stock image of a female worker (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Peter van der Sluijs)

Compared to other EU countries, people in the Netherlands are relatively often employed, but at the same time work almost the least number of hours per week, according to figures Statistics Netherlands released on Tuesday.

Of the 12.8 million people in the Netherlands between the ages of 15 and 75 years, 65.8 percent had paid work last year, according to the stats office. That is roughly seven out of ten men and six out of ten women. In the European Union, only Sweden, Germany and Estonia have higher employment rates. 

On the other hand only Spaniards, Croatians Greeks and Italians work fewer hours than Dutch. But this can be attributed to unemployment in those countries being much higher than in the Netherlands. The people in those countries who do have a job on average work many more hours than the average Dutch person with paid work. 

"The actual number of hours worked is very low in the Netherlands compared with the rest of Europe", Peter Hein van Mulligen, chief economist at Statistics Netherlands, said, according to the Volkskrant. "Dutch people like to work part-time, as is known, and that means that the labor participation rate is very high. But the new figures show that the high labor participation does not compensate for the short working weeks." Dutch people's average working week is 20 hours long, compared to 24 hours in the front runners Estonia, the Czech Republic and Sweden.

But that does not necessarily mean that Dutch workers are lazy, rather that they are efficient - they get a lot done during their working hours. "The labor productivity is at a high level, so the Dutch can afford to work so little", Van Mulligen explained. "But we also deal with an aging population, which means that there are more and more non-working people for every working Dutch person. Raising the retirement age is a way to solve this, but the low number of hours worked shows that there is also an increase in the available labor supply."

Last year 1.5 million Dutch between the ages of 15 and 75 years wanted work or more work. According to Statistics Netherlands, if all the hours that these people want to work more are added together, it amounts to 732 thousand full time jobs.

There are also 634 thousand Dutch who want to work fewer hours, according to the stats office.