Working Hard, Working Smart

Mark Krikorian and I have been singled (doubled?) out for a sneer from AEI’s Nick Schultz. Are our heads exploding (he wants to know) at the news that Mexicans lead the world in “total minutes worked, paid and unpaid, per day”?

Mark is very well able to speak for himself. My own reaction on seeing the OECD chart Nick displays was that Mexicans are getting dismally little bang for the industrious buck. After five hundred years of toiling away for 594 minutes a day they have nothing much to show but a mediocre economy propped up by oil revenues and expatriate remittances, dysfunctional politics, and wellnigh zero achievement in the cultural or
intellectual spheres.

A few minutes’ number-crunching confirms the impression. Remember how your Uncle Stan used to tell you that while working hard is good, working smart is better? OK, let’s create an Uncle Stan index. I’ll divide annual per capita GDP (from the CIA World Factbook) by the daily number of minutes worked to see how much annualized per capita GDP each minute generates. For Mexico I’m dividing $13,800 a head by 594 minutes, to get annualized $23.22 per person per minute worked in the day.

On the Uncle Stan Index (USI) Mexico ranks 27 out of 29 on the OECD list. That is to say, it’s one of the least efficient nations in the world at turning work into wealth.

Here’s the table. I’ve included a column for mean national IQ, these numbers taken from Tatu Vanhanen’s latest book. The last two columns correlate quite well:  r = 0.47.

Country USI         Mean National IQ
Norway 131 100
U.S.A. 96 98
Netherlands      90 100
Belgium 89 99
Australia 86 99
Denmark 83 98
Germany 81 99
Austria 79 100
Sweden 79 99
Finland 78 99
Ireland 78 92
Canada 77 99
France 74 98
U.K. 74 100
Italy 65 102
Japan 63 105
Korea 62 106
Spain 62 98
Slovenia 57 96
New Zealand 56 99
Portugal 44 95
Hungary 40 98
Poland 39 99
Estonia 37 99
Turkey 25 90
South Africa 24 72
Mexico 23 88
China 15 105
India 7 82

Now, see how unfair life is. Here’s me, a poor freelance drudge, doing all this math, while Nick Schultz has a nice cushy number at AEI where apparently he is required to do nothing but strike politically-correct moral poses. Nick doesn’t even bother to source his data: I had to Google for the spreadsheet link.

I guess Uncle Stan was right …

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