Chile Economy — 01 March 2016

santiago rain


Alana Gale

photo “Santiago Rain” by Javier Vieras

Santiago, Chile. 1 March 2016.

The most recent data from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) shows that the people of Chile work more hours per year than most of the world, writes Cristina Cáceres in La Tercera. In fact, according to the OECD data from 2014, the only people who worked more hours than the Chileans were the Mexicans, the Koreans, and the Greek. So how many hours do the people of Chile work annually? The OECD reports 1,990 hours, but data provided by the latest Chilean Government Labor Survey, also conducted in 2014, shows that Chileans spend more than 2,000 hours per year at work: 2,097 hours, to be exact.

The Labor Survey, released by the Chilean government this past January, indicated that the duration of the ordinary workday has remained relatively stable over the last decade, due to the reduction of the work week from 48 to 45 hours. Yet there was still a slight change from 2011: the average hours worked per week rose from 44.6 hours to 44.8 hours in 2014.

The survey also analyzed the number of hours worked for each gender. The results showed a very small difference, with men working on average 44.9 hours weekly and women working 44.7 hours. In terms of their daily schedule, this means women only work 12 minutes less than men, yet in spite of this there still exists a 30% gap between men and women’s salaries.

There are even five sectors, according to the Chilean government’s Labor Direction, whose hours worked per week exceeded the national average: the transportation industry, the trade industry, the hotel and restaurant industry, the education industry, and the agriculture industry.

Given this data, La Tercera asks the question: are Chileans really workaholics?

Our publisher, Walker Rowe, describes how his former experience working in an office in Chile contrasts with that of his work in the United States. He notes that people worked on Friday afternoons until 6 or 6:30, adding “No one in the USA works that late on a Friday.”

However, the general response is no, Chileans are not workaholics. Experts say that the reported data is in terms of hours spent in the workplace, and not the time actually spent working. Huberto Berg, who works as a public policy advisor for the Chilean organization Liberty and Development, supports this claim, insisting on the importance of considering other factors that take place during the workday, such as smoking, drinking coffee, or surfing the internet. Actual working hours, says Berg, only consist of 50% to 70% of the average workday.

According to the economists, the key to reducing the length of the workday is productivity. Patricio Rojas, economist for the Latin American mining consultant group Roja y Asociados, explains that if worker productivity is improved, then the country will develop and workers will need fewer hours to complete tasks. He added that if workers had more incentives to work—like higher pay, for instance—this could lead to an increase in productivity, and thus a decrease in working hours.

Moreover, another economist, Alejandro Fernández, who works for the company Gemines, highlights how low-income countries tend to have longer workdays, because as pay increases, the value of time becomes higher, resulting in better productivity. In his opinion, then, reducing the length of the workday is not the solution, as it would not help augment productivity.



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