On average, U.S. workers with jobs put in more hours per year than workers in most OECD countries. In 2012, only Greece, Hungary, Israel, Korea, and Turkey recorded a longer work year per employed person.
A long work year is nothing to celebrate. The following chart, from the same Economist article, shows there is a strong negative correlation between yearly hours worked and hourly productivity.
Over at The Global Sociology Blog, SocProf put up some interesting visuals about social mobility, the likelihood that you have a significantly different economic status than your father. Social mobility is important because it measures the degree to which a society has a caste system (in which you are restricted to the class you are born into, by whatever means) or one that gives people equal opportunities to ascend or descend the class hierarchy according to their hard work and talent.
SocProf, however, asked a question I’ve never seen asked before: does this mobility differ by gender? It does. She found that daughters are more upwardly mobile than sons.
This first graph shows the percent of sons, born to a low-earning father, who will end up the top 40% of earners (orange) or the bottom 40% (blue). Social mobility in the U.S. is lowest among the countries featured; almost 70% of American sons of low-earners stay in the bottom 40%.
The second graph is the same data for daughters. Mobility for daughters is higher in all countries, but it is especially so in the U.S. While 70% of sons stay in the bottom 40%, we can say the same for less than half of daughters.
Reflecting on the fact that the difference between daughters and sons was higher in the U.S. than in the comparison countries, SocProf suggests that “[g]reater mobility seems to go together with greater gender equality” in mobility.
There is big trouble brewing in Europe. John Ross, in his blog Key Trends in the World Economy, highlights this brewing crisis in a series of charts, some of which I repost below.
This first chart shows the extent of the recovery from the recent economic crisis in the U.S., the EU, and Japan. While the U.S. GDP has finally regained its past business cycle peak, the same cannot be said for Europe (or Japan). As of the 3rd quarter 2011, EU GDP was still 1.7% below its previous business cycle peak. The Eurozone was 1.9% below.
Recent GDP estimates for the 4th quarter show European GDP once again contracting, which strongly suggests that the region is headed back into recession without having regained its previous business cycle peak. This development implies that Europe faces serious stagnationist pressures.
This chart looks at the growth record for the 5 largest European economies. Germany has regained its previous GDP peak. France is making progress toward that end. These two countries account for 36.2% of European GDP. However, things are quite different for the UK, Italy, and Spain. These three countries account for 34.7% of European GDP and not only do they each remain far below their respective previous GDP peaks, their economies are once again heading downward.
The third chart highlights the economic performance of the three countries which have received the most media attention because of fears that their governments will be unable to repay their respective debts. They are clearly in trouble, adding to the downward pressure on European GDP. However, despite all the attention paid to them, their combined economies are only one-eighth the size of the combined economies of the UK, Italy and Spain.
The next two charts highlight the fact that economic trends are also dire throughout much of Eastern Europe.
The take-away is that European economic problems are not limited to a few smaller countries. Some of the largest are also performing poorly and apparently headed back into recession without ever having regained their past business cycle peaks. It is hard to see Europe escaping recession. And it is hard to see the U.S., Asia, and Africa escaping the consequences.