Hard-Working Italians vs Lazy Germans

The ongoing economic struggles in Europe have a somewhat unfortunate tendency to cause people to resort to somewhat lazy national stereotypes when discussing the issues. I keep hearing that hard-working Germans won’t stand to subsidize lazy Club Med lifestyles. But note that Italians put in much longer hours hours than Germans and the gap is growing:

That’s not because Germans are lazy, it’s because German workers are productive and the gap is growing. When workers get more productive, they consume more goods and services, but they also work less. And most of all, productivity and “hard work” are not the same thing. Vietnamese rice farmers have abysmal labor productivity, but they’re working very hard. In general, workers in high-productivity northern European countries (Netherlands, Denmark, etc.) work less, not more, than their southerly neighbors.