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Which country loves to work? See who doesn't take vacation time

A friend of mine asked me a few days ago when I last went on vacation – a real one. I struggled to remember the last time I went on a trip and didn't write or, before that, keep up with what was going on at the office. After stopping and focusing, I remembered a four-day trip I took to Orlando back in late 2005. Even there, I'm not sure that I didn't work, I just don't remember spending time behind the laptop. Before that, my last vacation was probably four days in San Diego in 2002 (again, I don't remember working but probably did) or the two weeks I took off when being reassigned from South Korea to Georgia in 1998.

Apparently, I'm not alone. Lots of people don't take vacations, according to a recent Reuters/Ipsos study. Ask any employee in the world if he uses his vacation time, and a there's a 33 percent chance the answer will be a resounding "no."

In a survey of 12,500 people from 24 countries, the French, unsurprisingly, are most likely to take advantage of the vacation days they are given, with 89 percent using all they are given. Argentina comes in next at 80 percent, followed by Hungary (78 percent) and Britain (77 percent). Think about it: in the top four, up to 25 percent of a country's employees don't blow through their vacation days.

Now, consider how grim the situation is at the other end of the spectrum.
The workaholics in Japan are least likely to use all the vacation time they are given, with only 33 percent using it up. South Africa is next up from the bottom at 47 percent, followed by South Korea (53 percent). The United States is next, with a mere 57 percent of employees using up all their vacation time. That's akin to leaving money on the table, when you think about it, since vacation time really is a part of your compensation.

Interestingly, income level makes little difference in whether one uses all available vacation time. It isn't just hard-core investment bankers, work-addicted consultants and client-committed attorneys. According to Ipsos, two-thirds of high- and low-income workers took all available vacation time. Age makes some difference, with workers over 50 more likely to take all their vacation days. Unsurprisingly, business owners and senior executives are least likely to consume all their time.

So, why are the world's workers so insanely dedicated to their jobs? Reuters says:

"There are lots of reasons why people don't use up vacation days but most often it's because they feel obligated to their work and put it over other more important things, including their own health and welfare," said John Wright, senior vice president of global market and opinion research firm Ipsos.

Below, you can see the full results of the survey:
  1. France: 89 percent
  2. Argentina: 80 percent
  3. Hungary: 78 percent
  4. Britain: 77 percent
  5. Spain: 77 percent
  6. Saudi Arabia: 76 percent
  7. Germany: 75 percent
  8. Belgium: 74 percent
  9. Turkey: 74 percent
  10. Indonesia: 70 percent
  11. Mexico: 67 percent
  12. Russia: 67 percent
  13. Italy: 66 percent
  14. Poland: 66 percent
  15. China: 65 percent
  16. Sweden: 63 percent
  17. Brazil: 59 percent
  18. India: 59 percent
  19. Canada: 58 percent
  20. United States: 57 percent
  21. South Korea: 53 percent
  22. Australia: 47 percent
  23. South Africa: 47 percent
  24. Japan: 33 percent
[photo by archie4oz via Flickr]

Filed under: Business, Asia, Europe, North America, Oceania, South America, South Africa, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Belgium, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, Canada, Mexico, United States, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, News, Middle East

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