By Thierry Malleret, economist
In Germany, the largest union (IG Metall), just secured a deal for a pay rise (+4.3%) well above inflation. Under the new agreement, workers can also take lower pay for working less (28 hours per week); do anything they wish with the 7 hours of extra time (spend it with family and friends, take another job…); and later return to full-time employment (35 hours per week). This is a landmark deal that other countries will try to emulate: not only does it improve workers’ well-being, but it will also increase overall consumption and help the European Central Bank hit its inflation target.
This particular example illustrates the fact that, when it comes to wellness policies, Europe often comes first. This is corroborated by two recent studies. The OECD Better Life Index, that ranks countries on how successfully households balance work, family commitments and personal life, has ten European countries in its top ten (eight being countries from the European Union – The Netherlands comes first). Likewise, the top ten countries in the 2018 Environmental Performance Index (EPI) published by Yale University that ranks 180 countries on 24 performance indicators across ten categories covering environmental health and ecosystem vitality are all Europeans.
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