Stereotypes about lazy southern Europeans and the industrious north were debunked in an article published by the Wall Street journal on Monday, which stressed that the problems of Europe's southern rim cannot be solved by getting people to work more.
Citing reliable Eurostat figures, the article noted that bailed-out Greeks in particular have the longest working week in Europe at an average of 42 hours, following closely by the Spanish and Portuguese with 39-hour weeks.
Among supposedly hard-working northerners, by contrast, the Dutch work just 31 hours a week on average while the Germans have a 36-hour week.
The problem, the article claims, is not that the workers in the South don't work hard enough but that their productivity is lower in relation to those in the north. Greeks produce less than 18.5 euros per work hour, the Spanish just 24.4 euros per hour and the Portuguese only 13.8 euros per hour. By contrast, the Dutch produce 39.5 euros per work hour and the Germans 38.7 euros per work hour.
The writer of the article said the difference lies in superior technology and infrastructure, rather than industry or even training, and suggests the solution to the problems is to attract multinationals with cutting edge technology.