When comparing the average number of hours worked among employed persons in the EU and Norway, we see that they are lower in Sweden and the Nordic countries than the average. Mean hours worked per capita in the 15-74 year-old population are, on the other hand, higher than the average. Hours worked are dependent on different factors in each country respectively.
The concept of average number of hours worked is often used in the public debate to show how much people work. Comparisons are drawn between countries and between men and women regarding how much they work. Comparing hours worked can be somewhat complex and several circumstances affect comparability.
Comparing hours worked internationally
The average number of actual hours worked per employed person in Sweden and other Nordic countries are lower than the other EU27 countries and Norway. At the same time, the employment rate among the population is higher than the average, particularly among women.
Hours worked correlate with the employment rate in each country respectively. Countries with a lower employment rate generally have a higher number of average hours worked.
Comparing the average number of hours worked per capita in the 15-74 year old population, they are higher in Sweden and most other Nordic countries than the EU average. This is explained by the higher employment rate in the population.
Trends in hours worked in Sweden
Between 1987 and 2011, the average number of hours actually worked have increased slightly in Sweden. Hours worked by women have risen while those worked by men have decreased. Men and women differ in several aspects as regards hours worked.
Civil status affects hours worked by men and women. Married or cohabiting men work longer than single men, whereas the opposite is true for women. Single women have a higher number of average hours worked than women who live in a relationship.
People who have children under 19 years of age living at home work shorter hours than other people. This is explained by the fact that hours worked among women with children still living at home are considerably shorter. Men with children living at home, on the other hand, work more than others.
There has been a change among parents with small children in recent years. The average number of hours actually worked among men with children under 7 living at home have decreased from 35.3 hours per week in 1987 to as few as 32.0 hours (lowest recorded figure) in 2009. During the same period, hours worked among women increased by 3.5 hours to 22.1 hours per week. The trend is strongest during the 2000s.