Fewer holidays for Europe

Despite the additional theoretical benefits of extra working days, all the countries of the European Union offer at least 20 days of paid leave to their workers. On the other side of the Atlantic, many believe that the 20 to 30 days of paid leave granted by European countries are an economic aberration of the same stripe as other, much too generous social benefits.

The negative impact of paid holidays on the economy, however, has never been proven, and some even argue the opposite holds true. “From a theoretical standpoint, the more holidays a worker has, the happier he is, and his productivity at work will go up”, explains Francesco Vona, an economist with the Observatoire Français des Conjonctures Economiques. “There’s also a cognitive explanation: our ability to concentrate is limited and our creativity is bound up with our ability to see things from the outside, which is difficult to do when you work too much.”

Careful, though: giving too much paid holiday might also raise the working tempo in some areas, such as industry, where the other employees must make up for the loss of output of workers who are away. A pace of holidays that is too intense may have the same harmful effects on health (stress, fatigue, illness) as too few holidays.

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