No, the Greeks Aren’t Lazy. The Germans Are.

A lot of people out there seem to have the notion that Greece’s troubles are the result of laziness.

That really doesn’t seem to be true. OECD:

Average annual hours actually worked per worker 2000-2010

GermanyInformation on item 1473 1458 1445 1439 1442 1434 1430 1430 1426 1390 1419
GreeceInformation on item Information on row 2121 2121 2109 2103 2082 2086 2148 2115 2116 2119 2109

And no, labor force participation is not wildly different: 55% in Greece, 60% in Germany.

To quote my friend Katherine: “It’s those goddam hyper-efficient Germans with their ‘work smart not hard’ screwing things up for the rest of us.”

Tongue in cheek there, of course, but it does seem to be German productivity in a single-currency regime that makes it impossible for Greek banks to stay solvent.

And it’s not that Greek bankers, politicians, or workers are lazy. No matter how hard they work, the financial system doesn’t seem to make it possible for them to live a lifestyle in which they crush their grapes with their childrens’ feet. No matter how much they want the “liberty” to live that lifestyle.

Cross-posted at Asymptosis.