Vacation-Evading Americans Are The World's Worst At Taking Paid Holiday

Everybody knows what it's like to grind at your job, but there are some new figures to back up just how good Americans are at working hard, and how bad we are at kicking back. That's because an Oxford Economics study's found Americans are leaving vacation time unused in a big way. A whopping 4 in 10 Americans finished 2013 with some vacation time remaining, and the sum total of unused hours was a staggering 429 million days, according to Bloomberg.

There could be a lot of different reasons for this, from the practical realities of work life — if you're taking time off, you might freak out that your boss won't approve, even if it's perfectly within your rights to do so — to the fact that America doesn't legally require employees get paid time off. As such, it could feel like cultural taboo, even if it's offered.

This much is not in doubt: the average worker receiving paid vacation time last year left just over eight days on the table, and that's a ton of leisure time out the window. Oh, and that's not how the rest of the world treats work and play, either. Here are four places that take their paid vacations so much more seriously and more regularly than we do.

1. France

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The French government is delightfully generous with its paid vacation requirements, giving its citizens over 30 days out of every year to themselves. And the people enjoy the time off — across France, Italy and Spain, the start of August marks the start of the vacation season in a big way. Of course, there's the obvious disadvantage of already being in one of the nicest places to visit, but we're sure travel-happy Parisians will manage.

2. Germany

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As laid-back as the French get to be, they can't quite rival the Germans, who in addition to living in one of the European Union's strongest economies get to take off 34 days per year, a combination of a bare mandatory minimum of 25 days for smaller companies, and from nine to 13 bank holidays, for which workers are also paid.

3. Saudi Arabia

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Yes, though it may seem strange to think it, given the myriads freedoms American citizens are afforded than Saudi Arabians are not, but on the issue of paid vacation time, they're beating the pants off of us. The Saudi government, under the complete control of the state's ruling monarch King Abdullah, mandates that workers receive 21 days of paid time off, and after being employed for five years, that figure jumps up five more.

Obviously, there are other relevant factors that might make vacationing not so fun — if you're a woman, for example, that three-week sojourn better not involve any driving.

4. Sweden

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The Swedish top the charts in at least one huge measure of living the good life — along with the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, and Switzerland, Sweden was ranked as the happiest country in the Columbia University Earth Institute's 2013 World Happiness Index. In fairness, we'd be a lot happier too if we were getting the amount of time off you get there, characteristic of the broadly generous minimums throughout Europe — Swedish workers receive a mandatory 25 days of paid leave each year, but with additional holidays and bonus time from some employers, the total can swell to over 38 days.