How to beat the winter blues

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If you’ve ever lamented the lack of holidays during the barren New Zealand winter, just remember that there are only five countries in the world that receive more paid vacation time and public holidays than we do.

According to figures from finance news website 24/7 Wall St*, New Zealand ties with Italy and Belgium for sixth place in terms of those eight countries with the most holidays. Kiwis, Italians, and Belgians all have 30 days, although our rate of productivity varies. New Zealanders, sadly, are the least productive – producing $43.73 per hour, while Italians produce $59.77, and Belgians $76.31.

That’s right, Belgians labour productivity per hour is more than $30 higher than our own. In fact, the only country in the top eight with lower productivity is Portugal.

The top five countries with the most holidays per year:


  1. Austria (tied): 35 days off per year; labour productivity of $66.17 per hour

          Portugal (tied): 35 days off; labour productivity of $41.54 per hour

  1. Germany (tied): 34 days off; labour productivity of $71.54 per hour

          Spain (tied): 34 days off; labour productivity of $60.90 per hour

  1. France: 31 days off; labour productivity of $73.98 per hour


Thirty-five days holiday each year in Portugal or 34 in Spain might look like a sweet deal, but the unemployment rates in those countries are 15.9% and 25.1% respectively. New Zealand, with unemployment of 6.9%, doesn’t look so shabby, after all.

However, the places to be as a worker are Austria and Germany where not only do you get 35 or 34 days of holiday each year, you’re also very unlikely to be out of a job with unemployment rates of 4.4% and 5.5% respectively.

At the other end of the spectrum is the United States, the only country in the developed world where workers do not have a single day of legally required holiday. The average worker in the US private sector receives 16 days of paid vacation days and holidays (about half of what we get) and one in four Americans does not have a single paid day off.

*24/7 Wall Street’s figures are based on a report by the Center for Economic Policy and Research and on figures published by the OECD and the IMF.


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