9 January 2012

The 23 Best Countries for Work-Life Balance (We Are Number 23) - The Atlantic

The 23 Best Countries for Work-Life Balance (We Are Number 23) - The Atlantic

The 23 Best Countries for Work-Life Balance (We Are Number 23)

JAN 4 2012, 4:41 PM ET 297

Northern Europe leads the world in laying out a social safety net for children and poorer parents, but the U.S. snags a top-five finish in the key "Working Mothers" category

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Copenhagen/Wikipedia

With the lowest child-poverty rate among developed nations, Denmark was named the best country for work-life balance in a 2011 report from the OECD.

All three Scandinavian countries -- Denmark, Sweden, and Norway -- finished in the top seven in the ranking. So famous for their generous social safety net, which sharply divides liberals and conservatives between envy and consternation, northern Europe dominated the list, taking almost all the top ten spots.

What constitutes a balance between work and life? The OECD settled on three chief variables: (1) The share of the labor force that works very long hours (more than 50 hours a week); (2) time spent on "leisure and personal care" (defined in contrast to paid or unpaid work as spending time with friends, going to the movies, pursuing hobbies, sleeping, eating, etc.); and (3) employment rates for women who have children. The United States, which leads most of the world in share of mothers who are working, lagged in leisure time and share of overworked employees. Onto the list, with some analysis below: