Why Americans Are Research Skeptics – Part 1

Rubin (far left) plays eccentric Professor A.K...

The doohicky say what?

Two studies came out recently that point out why we are so skeptical about research.  First there’s this gem from the Center for Economic & Policy Research.  No-Vacation Nation goes on for 24 pages describing how little vacation time Americans get compared to workers in the 21 richest countries in the world.  It starts like this;

The United States is the only advanced economy in the world that does not guarantee its workers paid vacation. European countries establish legal rights to at least 20 days of paid vacation per year, with legal requirement of 25 and even 30 or more days in some countries.

Now I’m just guessing here, but that might be the result of being a Capitalist nation not a Socialist one.  Just putting it out there.  The study goes on to say that lower wage earners are less likely to have any paid vacation.  Uh…yeah,  lower wage earners are more likely to fill less skilled jobs and have less seniority.  Then the report states;

The same is true for part-timers, who are far less likely to have paid vacations (36 percent) than are full-timers (90 percent).

What!? That can’t be!  You mean 20-hour-a-week-you-want-fries-with-that teenager doesn’t get a paid vacation?  Remember, some egg-headed researcher wrote this with a straight face AND apparently thought it was a revelation.  I’m still waiting for something in this paper that didn’t know before wasting 20 minutes reading it.  Finally we get to the conclusion.

This review of international standards for paid vacation and paid holidays shows that the United States lags far behind the rest of the world’s rich countries. The United States is the only advanced economy that does not guarantee its workers any paid vacation time and is one of only a few rich countries that does not require employers to offer at least some paid holidays.

In the absence of a legal requirement for paid vacation and paid holidays, about one fourth of the U.S. workforce has no paid vacation or paid holidays in the course of their work year. The sum of the average paid vacation and paid holidays – 15 in total – offered in the private sector in the United States would not meet even the minimum required by law in 19 other rich countries analyzed here. (The average in the United States only exceeds the legal minimum of ten days in Japan.)

The lack of paid vacation and paid holidays in the United States is particularly acute for lower-wage and part-time workers, and for employees of small businesses. Lower-wage, part-time, and small business employees are all less likely to receive paid vacations or paid holidays, and when they do receive paid time off, the amount they receive is far less generous than what is available to their higher-wage, full-time counterparts with larger employers.

The authors imply that America’s vacation disparity with the rest of the world qualifies it as a bad-bad country, in need of a swat on the nose with the Sunday paper no doubt.  What they don’t do is say why.  I thought perhaps these slacker countries might be richer than us.  No dice. When you look it up you find that America is the richest nation in the world with a GDP of about $14.5 trillion.  Second richest is China at $7.8 trillion.  Japan is third with $4.3 trillion.  What about the countries that the CEPR cites as mandating the most paid time off?

  • France – $2.1 trillion
  • Finland – $201 billion
  • Denmark – $214 billion
  • Norway –  $267 billion
  • Sweden – $358 billion
  • Germany – $2.9 trillion

By the way, Japan, the third richest country is just above America, second to last, in the CEPR’s vacation ranking.  China, the second richest nation wasn’t even included in the study. I wonder why?  Probably had a hard time finding someone that knew what the word meant.

The three richest, most productive nations in the world score poorly (or not at all) on the CEPR’s “entitled to paid vacation” ranker.    Those that score well on the “I want my paid holiday” scale are economic lightweights.  I wonder what we would find if we compared and contrasted those countries general attitudes about entitlements to our own?  I have my suspicions but will let you draw your own conclusions.

So the CEPR thinks Americans work far too hard.  We make the rest of the world look like slackers and they imply it is some way not good for us.  In part two, a study that says American’s are killing themselves by NOT working hard enough.


About Larry Downes

Son, brother, husband, father, boss, mentor & friend. Believer in unfettered personal liberty. Occasional host on 93.1 WIBC in Indianapolis.

One Response to “Why Americans Are Research Skeptics – Part 1”

  1. Really like your no-nonsense approach and common sense. YOu speak the simple truth, a rarer quality than one might imagine.

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