Dutch workforce puts in fewer hours, but is more productive

According to new data from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development's (OECD) Better Life Index, the Netherlands is one of the world’s least overworked countries.

A "nine-to-five mentality"

The data show the percentage of a country’s employed labour force working more than 50 hours on average per week. Countries are ranked from most to least overworked.

Of the 34 OECD member countries surveyed, the Netherlands places dead last, with just 0,45 per cent of its employed population qualifying as "overworked". By contrast, in Turkey, which tops the list, more than 40 per cent of workers put in a 50-hour (or greater) working week.

The average score for all OECD countries is 12,51 per cent. With some exceptions, overworking is less common in Western and Northern European countries. East Asian and Oceanic countries, meanwhile, are concentrated near the top of the index. 

In the Netherlands, Trouw observes, a nine-to-five work mentality dominates - workers value their roughly 15,5 hours of leisure and sleeping time each day.

The most and least overworked
OECD countries

Country Rank % overworked
Turkey 1 40,86
Mexico 2 28,83
Japan 3 22,26
Korea 4 18,72
Israel 5 16,03
Hungary 30 3,19
Norway 31 2,82
Denmark 32 2,03
Sweden 33 1,13
Netherlands 34 0,45

No loss to productivity

Employed residents of the Netherlands may enjoy more free time than workers in many other countries, but they are still among the most productive labour forces in Europe.

An earlier report published by the OECD set the Dutch economy’s projected growth rate for 2016 at 0,6 per cent above the Eurozone average.

Among the many indicators pointing towards strong economic growth is a relatively high rate of worker productivity per hour.

The latest OECD figures on this topic show that whereas the productivity of EU workers generates an average of 32,10 euros per hour - based on GDP output against labour input (hours worked) - Dutch workers produce an average of 45,80 euros per hour.

A part-time powerhouse

More people (around 50 per cent of the labour force) now work part-time in the Netherlands than in any other European country.

Since part-timers are often more productive than full-time workers, according to Trouw, this trend may help to explain how the Dutch workforce can produce so much without becoming overworked.


Emily McCallum


Emily McCallum

Emily grew up in a small coastal town in western Canada and moved to Utrecht in 2014, after completing her studies in Vancouver and Germany. So far, she has been...

Read more



Leave a comment