The U.S. Ranks Ninth-To-Last In Work-Life Balance

The United States ranks toward the bottom among developed countries when it comes to work-life balance, according to the updated Better Life Index from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

While the country tops the charts for income and housing, other important economic indicators, its worst ranking is in work-life balance. It clocks in at ninth-to-last out of 34 countries, thanks to longer than average work hours and less time devoted to leisure and personal care. The U.S. is in the top 14 for the number of hours worked among developed countries.

Long hours don’t just starve workers of time they could otherwise spend on personal needs or caring for family members. One study found that they push working mothers out of male dominated jobs, increasing occupational segregation and harming their earning potential.

The U.S. has fallen behind in some other ways when it comes to work-life balance, particularly for women workers. The country ranks at number 17 out of 22 developed countries on women’s labor force participation, down from a post at number six two decades ago. Those losses can be attributed to a lack of policies that can help working parents, according to researchers, including paid parental leave, protections for part-time work, and spending on child care.

The U.S. had some other low ratings in the OECD’s Better Life Index, including ranking at ninth-to-last for job security. While the country is number one for income and wealth, it ranks dead last for inequality in personal earnings among the rich and poor.