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National Stereotypes Confirmed By Time Use Data

By Matthew Yglesias on April 19, 2011 at 3:46 pm

"National Stereotypes Confirmed By Time Use Data"

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The Economist brings us a chart of excellent stereotype confirming research on how people spend their time:

French people spend a lot of time eating and grooming. The Japanese are hard-working. Germans put a lot of effort into plotting world conquest “other” activities.

But of course these averages can be somewhat misleading. I’m fairly confident that if you did a distribution analysis of how much “paid work and study” Americans do, you wouldn’t see a normal distribution with a single peak slightly below five hours. You’re averaging together people who work full time with people who’ve retired, etc. So when French people spend less time working than Americans, it’s not clear if that’s because the average full-time French workers works less than the average full-time American worker, or if it reflects the fact that French people retire earlier.

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