Iceland Mag

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Iceland Mag


All hands on deck: Icelanders have longer working lives than any other people in Europe

By Staff

  • Working life No umployment and high labour participation rates, Icelanders also have longer work lives than any other European nation. Photo/Eurostat

Icelanders spend a third more of their life as productive members of the workforce than the European average. Icelanders spend on average 47.4 years working, far more than the EU average, which is 35.6 years.

The length of the work life appears to be strongly correlated to the quality of life and economic output of countries: The four European countries which have the highest expected years of working life are Iceland, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands. The lowest average number of working life are in Turkey, Macedonia, Italy and Bulgaria. The connection is not perfect, however. Luxembourg, for example, has an average of only 32.9 years, well below the EU average. 

Read more: Iceland has the second highest quality of life among OECD countries

Eurostat, the EU statistical agency, explains that the "duration of working life" indicator measures the number of years a person, aged 15, can expect to be active in the labour market, either employed or unemployed, throughout his or her life. This number has been increasing in recent years. 

Women spend more time in labour market
In 2016, people in EU could be expected to work for an average of 35.6 years, up by 1.8 years compared with 2006. A major driver of this change is an increase in the expected years of working life among women. In 2016 women worked on average 30.6 years, compared to 33.1 years in 2016. 

Icelandic women are also spending more time in the labour pool. In 2006 Icelandic women spent on average 42.9 years working, compared to 45.1 years in 2016. Icelandic women spent on average six years more working than the average EU male in 2006. This difference had increased to 7.1 years in 2016.

Read more: Women's labour participation never been higher, almost half of all elected officials are women

Across the EU Member States, in 2016 Sweden had the longest expected average working life (41.3 years). Denmark and the Netherlands followed with 40.3 years and 40.0 years respectively, ahead of the United Kingdom (38.8 years), Germany (38.1 years), Estonia (37.8 years) and Finland (37.7 years). At the opposite end of the scale, working life was expected to last less than 33 years in Italy (31.2 years), Bulgaria (31.7 years), Croatia (32.1 years), Romania (32.4 years), Greece (32.5 years), Belgium (32.6 years) as well as in Luxembourg and Poland (both 32.9 years). 

Average expected years of working life

All hands on deck Icelanders spend on average more of their life working than other Europeans. Photo/EUROSTAT


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