What Your Vacation Says About You

Arthur C. Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute and the author ofThe Conservative Heart”, has a NYT op-ed titled “What Your Vacation Says About You”:

According to a study by Project: Time Off, a research-driven initiative from the U.S. Travel Association, American workers in 2013 forfeited 169 million days of paid time off, worth $52.4 billion. What was the career benefit? Negative, according to the study.

Those who left between 11 and 15 days unused were 6.5 percent less likely to receive a raise or bonus than those who used all their vacation days. We don’t know if this is because the vacation-less employees were overstressed, or because incompetent employees who couldn’t get their work done skipped vacation. But this does indicate that vacation takers are not paying a career price.

Vacations also say a thing or two about one’s country of origin. In America, the icebreaker conversation topic with a stranger is usually, “What do you do for a living?” In Europe, this would be about as interesting and relevant as, “Do you floss every day?” No, for Europeans, the fallback topic is always, “Where are you going on vacation this year?” Everyone has an answer, usually involving weeks and weeks at the beach or mountains.

The data on vacation provide support for the aphorism that Americans live to work, and Europeans work to live.

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