Countries with the most vacation days

Alexander E. M. Hess

24/7 Wall St.

The red-tiled rooftops of Lisbon, Portugal's capital, spill to the banks of the Tagus River where it flows into the Atlantic Ocean. Portugese receive a great deal of vacation time.
  • By law%2C every EU country has at least 4 weeks of paid vacation
  • Italy%2C France%2C Spain and Germany – 4 largest Eurozone economies – crack top 7
  • According to experts%2C paid vacation and holidays don%27t seem to have much macroeconomic effect

The United States is the only developed country in the world without a single legally required paid vacation day or holiday. By law, every country in the European Union has at least four work weeks of paid vacation.

Austria, which guarantees workers the most time off, has a legal minimum of 22 paid vacation days and 13 paid holidays each year. The average private sector U.S. worker receives 16 paid vacation days and holidays. One in four Americans does not have a single paid day off. Based on a report released by the Center for Economic Policy and Research (CEPR), 24/7 Wall St. identified the countries where workers get at least 30 days off a year.

Several nations providing workers with a great deal of time off can afford to be generous. Germany, where the economy remains strong, had an unemployment rate of just 5.5% in 2012. Similarly, New Zealand’s unemployment rate was just 6.9% last year. Both are well below the 8.0% Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) unemployment rate, as well as the 8.1% rate in the United States.

Still, some nations giving workers a generous combination of paid, legally-protected vacation days and holidays currently are struggling economically. France, Italy, Portugal and Spain each had an unemployment rate in excess of 10% last year. Spain’s unemployment rate of 25.1% was the worst among the 34 OECD member nations. The gross domestic product (GDP) of three of these four nations shrank in 2012, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In France, GDP rose by just 0.03%.

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