The World at Work An article about the daily grind around the globe

Read more Last updated: January 2018
In collection Work
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How long do people in Cairo work for a kilo of rice, what’s the retirement age in South Korea and who pays the highest minimum wage?

Net income per hour

In Mexico, workers take home a minimum of $1.01 net per hour, while Australia has the highest minimum wage, equivalent to US $9.54. Germany’s first ever statutory minimum wage of €8.50 per hour was introduced in 2015.
Statutory minimum wage in US dollars (purchasing-power parity) 2013

Time taken to earn a kilo of rice

To be able to buy a kilo of rice, people in Geneva and Oslo would need to work for exactly four minutes. In Vienna and Chicago it’s six minutes, in Mexico City it reaches 22 minutes and in Athens 34 minutes. But people have to work for much longer for their staple food in Nairobi (62 minutes), Cairo (66 minutes) and New Delhi (73 minutes). © UBS Switzerland AG

World at work
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3 fascinating facts

  1. The Kapauku tribe in Papua New Guinea avoid working on two consecutive days.
  2. The inhabitants of the Kalahari Desert in southern Africa work an average of two hours per day.
  3. The Ye’kuana people in the Venezuelan rainforest don’t have a word for work and don’t make any distinction between work and free time.

Hours worked per year

In Mexico, the average employee spends 2,228 hours per year at work. Costa Ricans are almost as industrious at 2,216 hours per year, while workers in Greece clock up an impressive 2,042 hours. Interestingly, despite their famous work ethic, the average hours worked in Japan are 1,729, which is actually below the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) average of 1,770. And work-life balance is clearly more important in Austria and Germany, where employees average 1,629 and 1,371 hours respectively.

Who retires when?

In South Korea, people work for longer than in Europe and the USA: men retire on average at 72.9 years of age, and women aged 70.6 years. And they do that despite the fact that the official retirement age for both there is just 61. On the other hand, the French retire remarkably young: men stop work on average aged 59.4 years, and women at 59.8.


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