France Wrests Title of Sleeping Giant - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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France Wrests Title of Sleeping Giant

France Wrests Title of Sleeping Giant

PARIS -- When he won the presidential election two years ago, Nicolas Sarkozy urged the French to get up early and work more to earn more.

A study released Monday suggests they missed the wake-up call.

France is the industrialized country where people spend the longest periods sleeping, according to a series of surveys on social habits conducted by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development.

The French sleep a daily average of 530 minutes, compared with 518 for Americans and 469 for Koreans -- the OECD's "most awake" nation, according to the study.

In an era of globalization, the amount of time spent at work has been declining gradually in the OECD's 30 member nations over the past three decades, according to the surveys, which were conducted in 2006.

The report shows, however, that sharp cultural differences remain in how people spend their time when they don't work.

True to the cliché, the French spend more than two hours eating every day -- about twice the time Americans devote to swallowing their breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Who are the couch potatoes of the OECD?

Mexicans spend 48% of their leisure time watching television or listening to the radio, compared with 44% for Americans and 28% for German people, the OECD report shows.

In contrast, Spaniards are the most addicted to sports: They spend 12% of their leisure time practicing sports, compared with 5% for Americans and 2% for Turks.

When they don't sleep or eat, the French hold another OECD record: They have 30 annual days of mandatory paid leave. That compares with 20 in the U.K. and 10 in Japan.

There is no mandatory paid annual leave in the U.S.

As for overall leisure, Norwegian men and women have about the same amount of free time each day.

In Italy, however, men have nearly 80 daily minutes more leisure time than women. On an annualized basis, that means 444 hours or 18.5 days.

"Much of the additional work of Italian women is apparently spent cleaning the house," according to the report.

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