NEW YORK (MainStreet) — If it feels like you spend a lot of time working and running errands, just be thankful you don’t live in Mexico.
Mexicans spend nearly 10 hours each day at work or in school and doing unpaid chores like housework and shopping after hours, making the country’s overall work day the longest in the world, according to new data from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, an international research group.
Rather than focus solely on the time spent working at a 9-to-5 job, the OECD data takes a broader view of the work day and factors in unpaid labor like cooking, cleaning the house, caring for members of the household and shopping in order to provide a more accurate sense of how much leisure time adults really have in each of the two dozen countries surveyed.
Though residents in Mexico have the longest overall work day on average, they only put in about six hours of paid labor a day, placing them behind several countries in that category, like Japan and Korea. What really pushed Mexico to the top of the list was the time its population spent doing chores, which takes up more than four hours of their days.
By comparison, people in the U.S. work a total of about 8.5 hours a day, making us the ninth hardest-working country on the list, but unlike Mexico, the majority of this is time spent on the job or at school. American workers put in a little under five hours of paid labor, more than all but six of the countries surveyed, but we spend just three and a half hours a day doing housework and other chores, well below the time spent by Mexicans and most Europeans.
Part of the reason for this, according to the OECD data, is that Americans spend only half an hour cooking food, less than every other country on the list. Unfortunately, while we save time on making meals, the OECD notes that our country also has the highest rate of obesity of any country, perhaps because we take so little care with what we eat and rely more on fast food.
Overall, the study found that countries in Western Europe tend to have the most leisure time, with Belgium, Denmark and Germany ranking as those with the fewest work hours, while those in Asia and North America tend to put in the most hours working.
For all of the countries surveyed, routine housework made up the largest component of unpaid labor, taking up an average of two hours and eight minutes a day, usually followed by the time spent caring for household members and then shopping time.
On average, consumers in the surveyed countries spend 23 minutes a day shopping, with French people clocking in the most time in stores (32 minutes), followed by Germans and Canadians. We may be known as the biggest consumer society in the world, but apparently even people in Canada shop more than we do.
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