It is difficult to consider that America has fallen behind in achieving a balance between family and workplace life. Most western nations, particularly in Europe, have a mandate for employees’ paid vacation time. The United States does not mandate these benefits, nor does it mandate paid maternity leave for mothers. Other countries that do not offer maternity leave are Papua New Guinea and Swaziland. These are the only three countries in the world that do not provide such benefits to employees. Although each and every country is distinct, several countries have advantages that make them better than others in terms of livelihood and work.

Germany holds a high standard of living and is one of the strongest and most powerful economic systems in the European Union. According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Germans work about 27 hours per week and still deliver a solid economy. Germans ranks 7th out of the 36 countries for time spent on leisure activities and are also the most traveled, with extra time to spare in other countries. Germany is high on the list for best countries to work in.

Bulgaria is one of the best countries to start a family in while working. Bulgarians receive over 400 days of paid maternity leave with almost 100 percent of the mother’s salary. There are also paternity benefits offered to the father and even grandparents if necessary.

Finland offers 40 days of paid vacation to its employees, and on average, less than .04 percent work more than 50 hours a week. Finland ranks high on the happiness indicator because of these employee benefits.

The Netherlands has a healthy gross domestic product rating and high standard of living. The employees working in the Netherlands work the least compared to other countries, and the economy remains stronger than ever. Employees receive 28 paid vacation days per year, and 16 weeks of paid maternity leave with full salary. This high standard of living is reflected in high levels of childhood satisfaction and high literacy rates.

The U.S. ranks 33rd out of 36 countries for time spent on leisure activities. Currently, there is a severe lack of balance between work and family life in the states. The typical American spends 60 percent of the day on working, leaving a mere 14 percent for spending time with loved ones.

One way the U.S. can improve the livelihood of its citizens is by helping reduce working family poverty rates. This can be done by concentrating more on a child’s early years and providing both maternity and paternity leave. Such changes can often yield a better and stronger economy. The U.S. is one of the only nations that does not offer strong benefits to employees, and as a result, the country is falling behind economically with a low overall happiness rating.

– Rachel Cannon

Sources: Fast CoExist, Equal Times, OECD Better Life Index
Photo: Amsterdam