August 3: Average work hours by country

In 1870 the average worker put in 3,000 hours annually.

Source: Our World in Data
Published: December 2020

Average work hours by country

The Industrial Revolution made way for shorter work days today. In 1870 the average worker put in 3,000 hours annually. Today that number has decreased for most countries, some by as much as 40-60%.

Data sourced by economic historians Michael Huberman and Chris Minns show the greatest change in work hours occurred in countries that industrialized early. The steepest declines happened between 1913-1938, the years spanning WWI, the Great Depression, and WWII.

Annual work hours in 2017, highest and lowest by country

Country: Cambodia
Average hours worked: 2,456
% change since 1870: +12

Country: Myanmar
Average hours worked: 2,438
% change since 1870: -1

Country: Mexico
Average hours worked: 2,255
% change since 1870: -7

Country: Malaysia
Average hours worked: 2,238
% change since 1870: -1

Country: Singapore
Average hours worked: 2,238
% change since 1870: -3

Country: Iceland
Average hours worked: 1,493
% change since 1870: -30

Country: Netherlands
Average hours worked: 1,430
% change since 1870: -56

Country: Norway
Average hours worked: 1,417
% change since 1870: -33

Country: Denmark
Average hours worked: 1,400
% change since 1870: -59

Country: Germany
Average hours worked: 1,354
% change since 1870: -59

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