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News : International Last Updated: May 5, 2009 - 8:33:36 AM


OECD survey says French spend more time sleeping than anyone ; Nearly double time eating than Americans, Canadians or Mexicans
By Finfacts Team
May 5, 2009 - 4:37:04 AM

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Source: OECD

The French spend more time sleeping than anyone else in OECD countries. They also devote more time to eating than anyone else and nearly double that of Americans, Canadians or Mexicans. The Japanese sleep nearly an hour less every night than the French and also spend longer at work and commuting than they do indulging in leisure activities.

These are some of the insights into the differing ways in which OECD countries use that most fundamental of resources, time, in the latest edition of Society at a Glance.

Society at a Glancegives an overview of social trends and policy developments in OECD countries using indicators taken from OECD studies and other sources. It attempts to help people see how their societies have changed, particularly in comparison with other countries.

A special chapter in the report investigates leisure time in the 18 OECD countries for which up-to-date time-use surveys are available. The time-use surveys included in this report are from 2006 and based on nationally representative samples of between 4000 and 200000 people.

The report reveals big differences in the amount of time men and women have for leisure. Italian men have nearly 80 minutes a day of leisure more than women. Much of the additional work of Italian women is apparently spent cleaning the house. Norway is the most equal society, with men having only a few more minutes of leisure than women.

Norwegians spend just over a quarter of their time on leisure, the highest among OECD countries, while Mexicans spend just 16%, the lowest.

So what are we doing with our leisure time? Watching TV absorbs nearly half of all leisure time in Mexico and Japan and falls to a low of 25% in New Zealand. Turkey is the most sociable nation, spending 35% of leisure time entertaining friends, more than triple the OECD average of 11%. But OECD countries are not very physically active: Spain reports the highest proportion of leisure time spent doing regular physical activities. Even there, exercise accounts for a mere 13% of leisure time.

Marriage rates have fallen in most OECD countries. In 2006, the crude marriage rate averaged across 26 OECD countries was 5.1 per 1 000 people, more than a third less than in 1970. The pace of the decline in marriage rates differs across OECD countries. The post-1990 decline was sharp in the Czech Republic, Korea, and the United States while Spain and Sweden show stable or even rising rates since the late 1990s.

Student performance can be assessed through results from the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). Cross-country differences in the performance of students towards the end of compulsory schooling are large -  - 15 year sold. Differences between the top country Finland for the three categories Reading, Mathematics and Science and the bottom country (Mexico) exceed 140 points, which is nearly one and a half standard deviations. There is also a strong tendency for countries which do well in reading to also do well in maths and science. Country correlations between reading, mathematics and science scores are all in excess of 0.87.

Finland's score for Mathematics was 548, compared with Ireland's 501 and Mexico's 406. Finland top scores for Reading and Science weree 547 and 563 points respectively. Ireland achieved 507 and 508, while Mexico scored at the bottom at 410 for both categories.

Divorce rates have risen in most OECD countries. In 2005, the crude divorce rate was on average 2.3 per 1 000 people, twice the level recorded in 1970 and 0.2 points higher than in 2000. Post-1990, divorce rates fell in the United States but rose in Portugal, Poland, Spain and Japan.

NNI - Net National Income Source: OECD

Other social indicators covered in Society at a Glance include adult height, fertility rates, education spending, income inequality, obesity, healthcare spending and life  and work satisfaction. Country notes are available here for Austria (in German), Canada, France (in English and French), Germany (in German), Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Switzerland (in German), United Kingdom and United States.

The OECD says it is a unique forum where the governments of 30 democracies work together to address the economic, social and environmental challenges of globalisation. The OECD member countries are: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States.

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