Israelis work longer hours than OECD average

According to OECD figures, Israelis work 2,000 hours a year, compared with 1,650 hours by the British, 1,419 hours by Germans, and 1,414 hours by Norwegians.

According to OECD figures, Israelis work 2,000 hours a year, compared with 1,650 hours by the British, 1,419 hours by Germans, and 1,414 hours by Norwegians. Israelis work 251 more hours a year than the OECD average. The Israeli workweek is 43 hours, more than the 40 hours in the US, and 37 in Denmark. However, according to Tel Aviv University leisure researcher Dr. Tal Soffer, if part-time work and shared jobs are taken into account, "The average number of work hours has steadily fallen to 36.2 hours per week, which is still higher than the OECD average of 33.4 hours."

"No comprehensive study has been conducted about leisure in Israel since the early 1990s," says Prof. Reuven Grunau of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem." "Such a study is difficult to produce because it requires intensive cooperation. Respondents are given a questionnaire that has to be filled out every quarter hour, which is hard to do."

The Central Bureau of Statistics says, "To produce a full and comprehensive survey requires financing that does not exist for leisure research."

Soffer says Israelis take less leisure time than their counterparts in Western countries, because of past labor contracts. "In Israel, there is great fear against breaking labor structures and a tendency to act cautiously and hesitantly on this point. It seems that Israel's decision-makers look at countries where radical increases were made to leisure time, such as the 35-day workweek in France, and the negative economic effect of these measures.

"This caution is seen in the decision-makers' attitude toward [Minister of Negev and Galilee Development] Silvan Shalom's private member's bill to shorten the workweek to four days. This is taboo in current labor relations and their conservatism."

Israelis are online 32.1 hours a month, on average, compared with 43.5 hours a month by Canadians, 35.3 hours by Americans, 24.1 hours by Germans, and 11.9 hours by the Japanese. "Israelis love this medium, using it to call friends and expand their knowledge," says Sofer.

According to the Israeli Ratings Council, Israelis watched 232 minutes of television a day on average in 2011, the highest figure since ratings were first compiled ten years earlier. Tel Avivis watched 53 minutes a day more than the national average, and Jerusalemites watched the least - 28 minutes less than the national average. For comparison, the average Americans watched 282 minutes of television a day, the French watched 212 minutes, and the Dutch watched 195 minutes.

According to Tel Aviv University sleep researcher Dr. Avi Sadeh, Israelis sleep an average of 6.5 hours a night, less than the 7-8 hours recommended by national and international health organizations. Israelis sleep less than the Spanish, with an average of eight hours a day, and Americans, with seven hours, but more than an average of six hours of sleep a day by the Japanese.

Cultural Institutions Forum director Itamar Gurevich says that Israelis buy 12 million tickets a year for shows. "This is a phenomenal figure in international comparison," he says, which he attributes the need for escapism from the pressures of life in Israel. "We know that during recessions, Israelis will cut back on other kinds of recreation, such as foreign travel and restaurants, but not on cultural shows."

Israelis watch an average of three movies a year, compared with fourteen by the Spanish, five by Americans, and one by the Swiss. Israel Cinema Foundation director Katriel Schory says that, before the launch of Channel 2, the average Israeli went to the cinema nine times a year. "Now they buy a 50-inch home entertainment system, so why should they have to look for parking and wait on line to buy tickets? In addition, the entertainment options available for the average Israeli are phenomenal. There are many choices besides going to the movies."

85% of Israelis read more than one book a month, more than the 72% of Australians, 67% of the French, 50% of Americans, and 47% of the Spanish, according to Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya leisure researcher Dr. Hanna Adoni. "In the 1990s, I conducted a study, which found that the average Israeli read for 30 minutes a day. We now know that the time budget method, i.e. to ask respondents how much time they devote per day to a particular activity, is incorrect for reading, and that it's much more accurate to measure frequency," she says. She adds that the amount of reading by Israelis is rising, notwithstanding competition from electronic media. "There are two possible reasons for the increase in reading," she says. "One is the Russian immigrants who read books in their free time. The other is the general rise in the level of education."

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on April 8, 2012

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2012

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