|The Swiss Work Ethic|
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Switzerland was a nation of poor mountain peasants, so poor indeed that for years they had to sell their military skills to European kings waging wars. Switzerland is not poor anymore, but the economic necessity of working hard is still alive today as a moral imperative. People forced by circumstances to remain idle for a few days often complain that they “have to saw wood” or do something productive lest they go crazy. The Swiss work long hours (1,844 hours a year), much longer than their neighbors (the Germans work a miserly 1,573 hours a year). The Americans take the cake with 1,904 hours a year. One would think that this strong work ethic is bred by Calvinism, a very demanding brand of Protestantism that makes people very hard working (Max Weber’s The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism is the classic reference here). However, the Catholic cantons work every bit as hard and feel no religious pressure at all.
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