International Work and Leisure Statistics

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Of the 12 affluent democracies, the US is the only country which does not mandate a minimum number of vacation days for workers. Even when they have paid vacation, many workers do not take full advantage of the vacation days they are entitled to. US workers work the most hours of the 12 countries reported.

  Life Satisfaction Average Score Average Hours Worked/Year Statutory Min. Annual Leave Paid Holidays Vacation Days Offered Vacation Days Taken Unused Vacation Days
Country Self-reported, 2015, scale of 1-10 2016 days/year        
Australia 7.3 1,669 20 8 20 15 5
Canada 7.4 1,703 14 9 15 14 1
Denmark 7.5 1,410 25 0 25 25 0
France 6.4 1,472 30 1 30 30 0
Germany 7.0 1,363 20 10 30 28 2
Italy 5.8 1,730 20 10 30 25 5
Japan 5.9 1,713 10 0 20 10 10
Netherlands 7.3 1,430 20 0 25 22 3
Norway 7.6 1,424 25 2 25 25 0
Sweden 7.3 1,621 25 0 25 25 0
United Kingdom 6.5 1,676 28 0 25 25 0
United States 6.9 1,783 0 0 15 12 3


Data is for 15 to 64 year-olds, except for Australia (15+ year-olds) and Sweden (25 to 64 year-olds). Data refer to the latest available year: Australia: 2006; Canada: 2010; Denmark: 2001; France: 2009; Germany: 2001-02; Italy: 2008-09; Japan: 2011; the Netherlands: 2005-06; Norway: 2010; Sweden: 2010; the United Kingdom: 2005; and the United States: 2014.

View OECD statistics

For average hours worked per year. OECD Secretariat estimates based on national time-use surveys.

View CEPR statistics

For statutory minimum annual leave/paid holidays. From the 2014 updated report.

View Better Life Index

For average daily time for leisure and personal care in hours/days. From 2016 edition. This indicator measures the amount of minutes (or hours) per day that, on average, full-time employed people spend on leisure and on personal care activities. Leisure includes a wide range of indoor and outdoor activities such as walking and hiking, sports, entertainment and cultural activities, socializing with friends and family, volunteering, taking a nap, playing games, watching television, using computers, recreational gardening, etc. Personal care activities include sleeping (but not taking a nap), eating and drinking, and other household or medical or personal services (hygiene, visits to the doctor, hairdresser, etc.) consumed by the respondent. Travel time related to personal care is also included. The information is generally collected through national Time Use Surveys, which involve respondents keeping a diary of their activities over one or several representative days for a given period.

View Expedia Data

Northstar, a market research firm specializing in travel and tourism among other sectors, performed research study on unused vacation days sponsored by Expedia.


Leisure Activities in 2014, Bureau of Labor Statistics

American Time Use Summary, June 2015

Watching TV was the leisure activity that occupied the most time (3.05 hrs/day for men, 2.61 hrs/day for women), accounting for more than half of leisure time, on average, for those age 15 and over.

Socializing, such as visiting with friends or attending or hosting social events, was the next most common leisure activity, accounting for 43 minutes per day.

"The Crazy Progress of the Movement for Paid Sick Days"

Bryce Covert & Dylan Petrohilos, September 2014, ThinkProgress

  • Still the only developed nation in the world that does not require some form of paid sick leave.
  • 15 laws have been passed at the state and local levels starting with San Francisco in 2006.
  • Paid sick leave allows workers stay at home when sick which may reduce flu transmissions by as much as 11 percent.
  • Paid sick leave hasn't been found to hurt economies, and in fact many cities have outperformed after their laws were enacted.

"Contagion Nation: A Comparison of Paid Sick Day Policies in 22 Nations," (pdf) Jody Heymann, Hye Jin Rho, John Schmitt, Alison Earle

Center for Economic and Policy Research, 2009

"The United States is the only country of the 22 studied here that has no legal provisions for paid sick days or leave of some form."

  • U.S. is the only country that does not provide paid sick leave for a worker undergoing a 50-day cancer treatment
  • is 1 of only 3 countries that does not provide paid sick days for a worker missing 5 days of work due to the flu

"French Family Values," Paul Krugman

New York Times, July 29th, 2005

  • GDP per hour worked higher than U.S.
  • unemployment averages 4 percent pts. higher
  • lower disposable income
  • lower personal consumption
  • government regulations dictate the short work weeks
  • people spend more time with family

"A nation with no vacation," Eric Leser

Le Monde, June 29, 2007, based on Center for Economic and Policy and Research (CEPR):

  • US has lowest number of vacation days of ALL developed countries, due in part to no law requiring paid leave
  • U.S.- 1/4 of private sector have no right to any vacation
  • Expedia: 1/3 of Americans do not take the 14 days annual paid leave they are on average entitled to.
  • Almost 1/4 of those taking vacation stay in touch with their company by email or voicemail.

"Why Working Less is Better for Globe," Dara Colwell, May 21, 2007:

  • Americans work more than anyone else in the industrialized world: Sierra Club
  • U.S. - world's largest polluter, 22 percent of fossil fuel consumption, 50 percent of solid waste: CEPR
  • France - greater productivity per person than U.S., $37.01 GDP per hour (U.S. $33.77)
  • US is only industrialized nation with no legal protection for vacations.


Average time spent watching TV per person per day

News as a percent of total TV programming