SEJONG, May 7 (Korea Bizwire) — New data has revealed that South Korea’s GDP per hour worked per hour is far lower than that of other advanced nations, and belies the nation’s reputation as one of the world’s leading economies.
Experts attribute the low rate to the grueling long work hours not found in other nations. According to an announcement by the OECD on Sunday, South Korea’s GDP per hour worked stood at $34.30, an increase of $1.40 from the previous year.
The country’s GDP per hour worked has continued to increase after surpassing the 30-dollar mark in 2011.
The most recent figures show the largest increase in seven years due to two factors last year: a decrease of labor inputs into the market following restructuring, and the boom of the real estate industry.
Despite the hike, however, South Korea’s productivity rate pales in comparison to that of other advanced nations.
Of the 22 OECD member nations that had their workforce productivity rates tabulated, South Korea ranked 17th. Only five countries had lower productivity numbers: Portugal, Hungary, Estonia, Greece and Latvia.
The nation’s GDP per hour worked accounted for only 38 percent of Ireland’s ($88), the top seed on the list. The gap is also evident when compared to Spain ($47.80), a nation of similar economic capacity to South Korea.
South Korea’s total GDP according to the World Bank stood at 1.41 trillion won in 2016, which makes it the 11th largest economy in the world. Korea’s economic capacity rose to 10th place in 2005 before falling to 14th between 2009 and 2013.
Such numbers suggest that Korea’s economic size is comparable to that of advanced nations, but analysts attribute the sluggish GDP per hour worked numbers to lowered productivity and a unique “overtime” culture within Korea’s corporate community.
According to the OECD, the average work time per year was 2,069 hours per person, which is 305 hours more than the OECD average of 1,764 hours. This translates to at least an hour more of work per day by Korean workers compared to their OECD counterparts.
German workers boasted the lowest number of average work hours at 1,363, while France’s average was 1,472 hours, still well below the OECD mean.
The GDP per hour worked in France and Germany was $60 and $59.90, respectively, twice that of Korea’s GDP per hour worked.
“Koreans work overwhelmingly more hours than workers in other countries and this plays a role in lowering Korea’s GDP per hour worked,” said Professor Yoon Chang-hyeon from the University of Seoul’s economics department.
M. H. Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org)