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America's Vacation Deficit And The Right To A Summer Holiday

vacation deficitOnly in America will you find a condition like the "vacation deficit" – a statistic that measures the proportion of people who think that a summer vacation is important, but don't think they'll be able to squeeze one in this year.

The "vacation deficit" is measured annually as part of Allianz Travel Insurance's Summer Vacation Confidence Index, released last month. According to the report, the deficit currently stands at 18 percent, down from 24 percent in 2011 and 28 percent in 2010. The report also states that 57 percent of Americans either have taken or plan to take a summer vacation this year, defined as traveling at least 100 miles from home for at least a week.

It's hardly surprising that Americans feel such trepidation about their right to a summer holiday. Earlier this month, The Atlantic reported that the United States is the only advanced country without a National Vacation Policy – in other words, we're the only first-world country that doesn't require that companies provide paid vacation leave to their employees. In most developed countries, workers are guaranteed at least 20 days a year of paid holiday and vacation leave, with European nations like Austria and Portugal guaranteeing up to 35 days.

But even if we had mandatory vacation leave, would we take it? The article noted that Americans often don't take advantage of the vacation days they do have, citing a Harris Interactive study, which found that 57 percent of those interviewed had an average of 11 unused vacation days at the end of 2011.

We don't need to go into the mental, emotional and physical benefits of time off. Countless studies have revealed that getting away from your known environment, unplugging your computer and engaging in leisure activities can make you a happier, healthier, more productive individual. It's not too late to reclaim your right to a summer vacation and help reduce the deficit.

[Flickr image via Dr Tr]

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