Why Greece is struggling so much with productivity?

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I know that Greece has had economic woes for some time, but I was surprised to learn that the average Greek worker puts in more hours per year than the average American and significantly more than the EU average. With the recent approval of six day workweeks in Greece, while conversations about shifting to four day workweeks are occurring elsewhere in the world, I’m curious as to what has led to this situation occurring?

In: Economics

15 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

Actual labor hours are notoriously difficult to measure with any specificity. They’re based on surveys that tend to ask people how many hours they work in a week. The standard answer for a full-time worker is “40,” regardless of their actual situation. This is especially difficult with white-collar, salaried workers who are not paid based on their hours and are instead expected to complete whatever their job demands of them using whatever time they can find. This creates one bias towards high recorded work hours in countries with less economic development. When your typical worker is putting in long hours at the factory, those hours are precisely measured. When your typical worker is up late in their home office to finish a report, they likely aren’t.

Another bias towards high recorded work hours *per worker* is the balance of full and part time workers in the economy. Naively, having more full time workers than part time workers means that your people are working harder overall, but this ignores the possibility that some people simply aren’t working. Going to the statistics on labor force participation, Greece has among the lowest in Europe at just over 50%. If we’re interested in total labor productivity *per person* (of working age) rather than *per worker*, Greece starts to look much like its neighbors with about 1,000 hours per person. This is close to the figure for Germany, which despite having the lowest hours per worker has among the highest labor force participation rates. Thus it seems that the main difference between Greece and Germany is that Germany spreads its labor across nearly its entire working-age population while Greece concentrates it in just half. I don’t know enough about the Greek economy to make claims about why that might be or what it might mean.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Probably not great to compare to something like the US where we have companies like Nvidia where revenue per employee is something like $3million and profit is over $1million. Ya that’s an edge case, but we have huge tech and financial sectors where there’s just higher paying jobs available with little overseas competition generally. Lots more automation as well for things like automakers, not really aware of any big tech/financial/car companies in Greece.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Some types of service economics (Tourism, etc) struggle with increasing productivity because they are so labour intensive where as Financial services and manufacturing can easily pushed up the productivity slide by adding capital equipment amd technology.

Its a real challenge to work out how to improve productivity in these situations beyond the usual government services reforms streamlining regulation etc but where you can introducing self service and technology can help. Improving infrastructure e.g. transport , communications, and in certain situations education but these are long term investments and their benefits depend on geography, population density etc.

Anonymous 0 Comments

It’s a cultural problem, not exclusive to Greece, of what happens when you define someone’s worth by how much they are working and not by what they’re actually doing.

Some instances in the US you’ll just see business fail or stagnate, but when it’s ingrained in an entire country you see different issues arise.

Anonymous 0 Comments

One factor is just a simple data collection problem – Greece has a lot of tax evasion and the main way they do that is by doing grey/black market work with cash only payments.

Because you can’t measure this very easily, it impacts the productivity measurements of the country.

Anonymous 0 Comments

One reason is that greek workers are not using technology enough.

The microsoft digital futures index gave Greece a score of 81, 17% lower than other central and eastern European countries.

This means greek workers on average must spend longer to complete the same tasks as in other countries.

Anonymous 0 Comments

For starters the 6 day work week is simply the codification of something that has been the norm for decades. People were already working 6 or 7 days per week and almost always overtime, most often unpaid. This new legislation simply seeks to remove any legal recourse employees had, not that it makes much difference since authorities were very slow to respond to reports and they rarely actually managed to prosecute anyone, but also because since it’s the norm there’s no alternative. Finding work where you’re not expected to work 10-12 hours per day every day is the exception to the norm, so for many it feels pointless to change jobs or report an employer for something that’s literally the norm everywhere.

It’s an incredibly complex subject to analyze the full timeline between post war Greece and now but on a very basic level the problem is massive wealth inequality, corruption and lack of oversight, and an over reliance on the service and tourism industries. Greece remains competitive by offering lower prices, but to offer lower prices they have to keep wages low, but with wages low while using the Euro as a currency and needing to import most goods this inevitably puts a strain on the people, who are deadlocked in a situation where their neolib governments only care to cater the interests of industrialists who drain the people for everything they got because they have no oversight.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Greece struggles with productivity due to several interconnected factors. The country’s economic structure relies heavily on sectors like tourism and shipping, which can be seasonal and volatile. There’s also a high level of bureaucracy and regulatory complexity, which can stifle business growth and efficiency. Additionally, the education system doesn’t always align with the needs of the job market, leading to a skills mismatch. Furthermore, Greece has faced significant economic challenges and austerity measures over the past decade, which have hampered investment in innovation and infrastructure. Together, these issues create a challenging environment for boosting productivity.

Anonymous 0 Comments

If you plug-in Balkan level corruption to a western world level neoliberal economy, Greece is what you get. Austerity and memorandums eliminated the public sector and destroyed any worker/union protections from the past, so now we’re at the mercy of monopoly cartels and profiteering.

Anonymous 0 Comments

We dont struggle with productivity.

Country has a major problem with undocumented hours and “black money” aka tax evasion.

They are trying to fight all that by introducing things, that generally always have loop holes that the average business owners translates it as they want, to abuse the average wagey.

The reality is that the average wageys usually work way more than 8 hours but it doesnt get reported anywhere and the money is given as cash at hand.

Or not given at all, with the threat of “You can f off if you dont like it”.