Americans generally happy with work/life balance

December 10, 2013, 3:30 PM GMT+0

Most Americans say that they're happy with their work/life balance, though the country is evenly split on whether or not they would prefer to have more free time or a higher income.

Americans work hard, very hard: longer workweeks, less vacation time, and later retirement. The average American works more in any given year than their fellow workers in most other developed countries, clocking in 1,790 working hours per a year. In contrast, the average German worker puts in 1,397 hours per year, while the average French worker works 1,479. Americans have long prided themselves in having a national ethic of hard work, and one study done in 2011 provides some evidence that working longer hours may actually make Americans happier, unlike their European counterparts.

Even though Americans are allegedly made happier by working longer hours, people in the US are divided over the general fate of the nation's economy, with only 27% thinking that it's getting any better, and 30% thinking it's getting worse.

According to the latest YouGov research, more than half of all Americans (56%) think that work life has gotten worse than it once was, while only 9% say that it has gotten any better. Among those who have just entered the work force, that is, people between the ages of 18 and 29, are the most positive with 19% saying work life is getting better. This is 10% higher than any other age group. Men (12%) were also twice as likely as women (6%) to say that work life is better today than it once was. Americans are also more likely to say that their parents were better able to balance their job and family life than they currently are.

Asked whether they work too much, only 31% of Americans say that they work too much, while a slim majority (55%) are satisfied with their ability to balance a job and a personal life.

Most people (62%) believe that you can get ahead in American workplaces if you're willing to put in the hours if you are willing to work long hours at the expense of your personal life, while nearly a third (31%) do not. In fact, a majority of every group believes that working longer hours can give you that extra boost in your work life.

Even with the long hours they work, the majority of Americans (60%) do not currently have enough money to lead the kind of life they want. Indepedents (68%), and people aged 45-64 years old (68%), had the largest majorities of those who do not think they have enough. Looking forward, just over a third of people (37%) think they will be able to earn enough in the future. Those aged 45 to 64 were the only group that where a majority (51%) say that they will not have enough money to live the life they want in the future.

At the end of the day Americans are nearly evenly divided on their preference for more money versus more personal time. 37% of Americans would prefer more hours with more money, while 38% would prefer less hours and more personal time. 25% were unsure.

Full poll results can be found here.

Image: Getty Images

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