Mexico fact of the day

When the news was announced that Mexicans work longer days than anyone else in the world, many people here were too busy to notice.

“Really?” Marcelo Barrales said, “the longest?”

Mexicans work an average of ten hours a day, paid and unpaid labor, even though the country is far from the world’s poorest.  Belgians work the least number of hours a day, at seven.  It can be argued that these long hours stem in part from the inefficiency of labor in Mexico, but still this should put to rest the cliched notion that in Mexico the work ethic is weak.

Comments

1) It "should" but it won't.

2) Couldn't you also argue that inefficiency of labor (aka low productivitiy) is a reason for people to work less? The substitution effect and all that. My point isn't that the explanation is wrong per se, but rather that it could be used to explain both observations: lots of hours worked and few hours worked.

What is the inefficiency is pervasive beyond labor?

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when people talk about work ethic they typically use the east asian example as their main case. it's pretty hard to make the case that mexican labour is better able to handle the kind of industries and conditions that south korea, taiwan and now china went through in their development. we're talling about diligent workforces that will work 12+ hours in factories for a pittance. there's a vast difference.

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"should put to rest the cliched notion that in Mexico the work ethic is weak"

Might the datapoint be wrong? Methinks you are making a Hansonian error, in this case, any single datapoint consistent with one's priors is definitive and sufficient.

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Is measuring the number of hours at work really the correct metric to compare countries' production/work ethic? Thanks to telecomm, "hours spent at work" has become more of a fungible concept.

After working for a certain time in Mexico city, I've come to realize that physical presence at one's place of work doesn't equate that actual work is being done.

The challenge is to incentivize employees, and that's more of a trickle down issue. But that's another story.

Another thing that time in India taught me is that the time recorded on the time cards and the time actually present can be two very different quantities.

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Every office worker I spoke to in Chile, American or Chilean, echoed one Chilean's frustrated opinion that "We work incredibly long hours, but we're really just not productive." Chile doesn't have a siesta, but nonetheless it seems that hours are wasted in having coffee at other people's desks and napping to make up for the absurd Chilean sleep schedule.

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"After working for a certain time in Mexico city, I’ve come to realize that physical presence at one’s place of work doesn’t equate that actual work is being done."

Considering I'm getting paid to make this post, amen.

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The most gruesome and longest workloads that I've seen in my life were not in Asia neither in Africa, they take place in extremely impoverished Northeastern Brazil. A southern Brazilian friend had two says about this: "I study hard because I'm lazy" and "grandma always told me that when the brain doesn't work it's the body that suffers." My friend appears to be the only one that I know that has got it right.

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I was going to say that the siesta is included in time worked but I think Dave above has it nailed.

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Does the 10 hours include the traditional siesta period of the day? I believe that this can be 1 to 2 hours and begins around 2 or 3 PM.

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My guess is that few commentors here have worked alongside Mexicans in the field or on the construction site as I have. My personal experience aligns well with the idea that Mexicans are a hard-working bunch.

If you, as a tourist in Mexico, see a construction site with no workers over the heat of mid-day, consider that you were not out of bed nearly early enough to observe at what time the workers started.

Most poor are a hard working bunch. Are the Mexicans harder working than equivalently poor folks?

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Anecdotally, in New York City, you generally see the Mexican workers in the Korean delis and Mexican delivery men from the Chinese restaurants working day and night, six days a week. Living in NY, you have to be impressed by the Mexican (Mexican immigrant, that is) work ethic and have never understood why the cliche remains alive.

Are they Mexican?

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That's true of all immigrants who come here to work.

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Tyler, this is entirely consistent with the (probably false) idea that Mexicans have no work ethic and just laze around and do things very slowly.

The study says Mexicans do 3 hours every day of 'unpaid' 'work', versus about 1 hour and 20 minutes for South Koreans! And as far as I can tell from the OECD public summary, it says nothing at all about how hard anyone works.

You may know from your personal experience that many Mexicans have a good work ethic. The study results add nothing to that, as far as I can tell from the OECD public summary.

Also, I think the best point of comparison would be Brazil. But it looks like the OECD has only incomplete information on Brazil.

Finally, the OECD does not make the report available to the public. It's only available to 'journalists' who call and log-in to a password-protected media relations website. Does any blogger want to support the OECD's goal of managing access to its reports? Does any journalist want to make it public, or have they agreed to restrictions? The Post deals with it by linking to the OECD site that gives you the media contact phone number and a PR summary.

Doubly-finally, the Post article invents a new word-manana. I hope it rhymes with banana.

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Anyone who claims Mexicans (whether immigrants or second generation) have no work ethic has never been an employer of blue collar workers. You get more than you pay for and if you are good to them, they are good to you.

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"Mexicans work an average of ten hours a day, paid and unpaid labor, even though the country is far from the world’s poorest."

Paging Fox Butterfield....

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What's the meaning of "unpaid labor"? If I spent an hour mowing my lawn does it count?

Yes. So, does cooking at home, washing clothes, etc. I believe in the original report, even shopping is considered work.

I believe in the original report, even shopping is considered work.

Please don't tell my wife that!

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an opinion as a mexican: many people has a strong work ethic, the problem is the lack of creativity and entrepeneurship you find in the post-socialist countries. lots of people behave like bureaucrats, arrive at job early, do lots of stuff during the day, leave late, but they never question themselves about the added value of their work at the end of the day.

ps. i'm posting during my working hours.

I agree to something like that. It was hard to the the Mexicans (IT/Business Office folks) I worked with to work with you on things tangential to their job. You send them an email and it would take them a day or more to answer. The concept of "Do something quick for me" isn't there. If you need to talk with someone for 5 minutes to get an answer for a question, it's like pulling teeth to make that happen. But if you go up the chain of command, and they get instructions from a manager to talk to you, then they get in touch with you.

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I'm wondering if Steve Sailer is going to show his face on this comments page...

I imagine the only thing worse than doing 10 hrs/day work for your entire life for terrible wages would be to work 10 hrs/day for your entire life and then have Steve Sailer say you're lazy and stupid, and don't deserve to live in America. And if you try and protest against his ideas, witness him tar you with smears about "political correctness".

Hear hear.

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>>tar you with smears

Pot, kettle.

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You may be correct, but it would be interesting if anyone would counter him with actual facts.

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If I have a repair job in a shipyard there's no ethnic group I'd rather see than Mexicans. They'll work harder, longer, and in more extreme weather conditions than any other group I've had experience with.

But is this just because their country sucks?

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For example, I blow the doors off the average Mexican and work in terrible conditions relative to the type of work I'm doing. The first thing I do is improve the conditions. Tolerating bad work conditions may not be that great on net.

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if anybody can read spanish this a really good article about the issue:

"Mexicans are not lazy, we are useless, not productive."

http://www.eluniversal.com.mx/columnas/89411.html

Well, there is a big variation on works ethic, both regional and by industry. Residents of Mexico City can speak for themselves.

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and finally I found the original source, a report from the CIDAC (www.cidac.org) Center for Development Research. There´s a graph shows that the producivity of each mexican state compared to countries around the world. Campeche is like Luxemburg, while Guerrero is like Namibia.

http://blogs.esmas.com/cidac/index.php/2011/04/15/si-mexico-fuera-el-mundoque-pais-seria-tu-estado-en-productividad/

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The study is not public, according to the OECD site. The PR release and the Post article do not show that Mexicans work 'hard' at their jobs or that they have a strong work ethic. People may believe that Mexicans do work hard because of their own observations of Mexican workers, either in Mexico or in the US, but that's not from the report, and it's not data.

I invite anybody to show that I'm wrong--that the article or the underlying report really do give evidence of a work ethic and 'hard' work.

Or, let's start calling people racists. That's cool too!

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The Mexican oil industry is not productive because of stupid laws which discourage risk taking among individuals. Their corporate culture amounts to: "First, don't fuck up." Because fucking up working for the government in Mexico can mean not just losing your job but going to jail. In practice, this means workers spend most of their time doing pointless paperwork to cover their asses instead of productive work on a project. In such a system, the bureaucratic-minded rise to the top. Those impatient to get things done join a drug gang. I suspect the best and brightest go work for the cocaine cartels. It's their Wall Street.

This sounds so much like India. Except the drug gangs and cartels.

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That is why what we are doing is so forward looking.
With an essentially non-white America we will have all the +++++ and none of the ----
Never again will we have to worry about a Nazi-Aryan party coming to power.
And we still live the good life, what's not to like?

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I suspect that, when we say that in country X there is low "work ethics", we are talking more about things like regularity, sense of organization, ponctuality (sp?), etc. than exactly "working much/less hours".

I am from Portugal and we work more hours than most european contries; however we are not much regular, ponctual, etc.

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