Which countries are the most productive? This can seem hard to determine because different industries are more common in certain countries than they are in others and the number of hours worked in a week varies greatly between countries.
GDP (PPP) per hour worked is a measure of the productivity of a country excluding unemployment or hours worked per week. Gross domestic product (GDP) refers to the total monetary value of the goods and services produced within one country. Purchasing power parity (PPP) is a macroeconomic analysis metric used to compare economic productivity and the standards of living between nations. GDP (PPP) uses nominal GDP that is adjusted for the relative cost of local goods, services, and inflation rates of the country, rather than using international market exchange rates.
GDP (PPP) per hour worked measures how efficiently labor input, the total hours worked all of the persons engaged in production, is combined with other factors of production and used in the production process.
Norway’s GDP (PPP) per hour worked is $75.08, the highest of any country in the world. Despite this, Norway has the third-lowest average workweek in the world of 38.0 hours per week. Additionally, work-live balance is Norway is highly valued and family is a huge priority, even over work. Parents are often allowed to leave work early to pick up their kids from school. Norwegians are known for being extremely efficient and task-oriented at work and can shut out their jobs from their lives once the clock hits 4 p.m. (the typical end time of a Norwegian workday).
Luxembourg’s GDP (PPP) per hour worked is $73.22. The average workweek in Luxembourg is about 40 hours. It is believed that the main reason for Luxembourg’s high productivity levels is its financial sector. If Luxembourg were to adopt the Scandinavian work-life balance, it is believed that productivity would increase even more.
The United States comes in at third for productivity with a GDP (PPP) per hour worked of $67.32. This counters claims that Americans are the most productive workers in the world. American full-time employees work 41.5 hours on average per week and about 11.1% of employees work over 50 hours per week. While the U.S. is still the third-most productive country per hour, this shows that many Americans live to work instead of work as a means to live.
Belgian workers contribute $60.98 to Belgium’s GDP (PPP) per hour worked, making Belgium the fourth-most productive country in the world. The average workweek for full-time employees in Belgium is about 38.8 hours. Workers in Belgium have strong skills and are highly educated, allowing them to enjoy high wages, relatively low inequality, and a good work-life balance.
5. The Netherlands
GDP (PPP) per hour worked is $60.06 in the Netherlands. The Netherlands has the second-lowest hours worked in an average full-time workweek among OECD countries of 37.3 hours. Productivity is so high in the Netherlands that only 0.4% of employees work over 50 hours per week. The Dutch also have some of the best work-life balance in the world.
France is the sixth-most productive country in the world. French workers contribute $59.24 to the GDP (PPP) per hour worked. France’s workweeks are the fifth-shortest among OECD countries at 38.9 hours. Although GDP (PPP) per hour worked in France is about 12% lower than in the United States, it is about 25% higher than the OECD average and EU averages.
Germany’s GDP (PPP) per hour worked is $57.36. Germany’s average workweek is 39.5 hours. Productivity is significantly higher in western Germany than it is in eastern Germany even after unification over three decades ago. Eastern Germany has mainly small and medium-sized enterprises with lower labor productivity and western Germany has larger competitive firms.
Ireland is the eighth-most productive country in the United States with a GDP (PPP) per hour worked of $56.05. Ireland’s full-time employees work an average of 39.7 hours per week. Ireland’s high concentration of multinationals typically drives the largest productivity gains.
Australian workers contribute $55.87 to the country’s GDP for every hour worked. Going against the trend seen in the other most productive countries in the world, Australia’s average workweek is longer at 41.8 hours and about 13% of Australian employees work over 50 hours per week. Australia’s productivity growth has averaged 1.1% per year over the past five years.
Denmark is the tenth-most productive country in the world with a GDP (PPP) per hour worked of $55.75. Of the OECD member countries, Denmark has the shortest average workweek of just 37.2 hours for full-time employees. Denmark will need to continue to grow its worker productivity to keep up with its welfare system and aging population.