The vacation dichotomy

2005

As tens of millions of Europeans enjoy their traditional summer breaks, Thomas Fuller in the International Herald Tribune explores the reasons why the United States, along with Australia, remains the only country in the industrialised world that does not have national minimum requirements for holiday time.

In recent years, economists have been fascinated by the reasons Americans and Europeans diverged so radically.

Some say higher taxes in Europe led workers to demand more time off rather than salary increases because getting more money might mean slipping into a higher tax bracket. Others contend that stronger trade unions in Europe were in a better position to demand concessions from employers. And still others say longer working hours are simply ingrained in the American psyche.

Perhaps a more interesting question would be, why do Americans put up with it?

IHT | It's August; guess where everybody is