These Were The World’s Most Productive Countries in 2023


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Increasing productivity in the workplace can be tricky and, as a business owner, it’s likely you’ll need to encourage a reduction in meetings or use the best CRM systems on the market to achieve this uptick.

According to our data deep-dive, the productivity of whole countries can vary as much as that of individuals. Studying the performance of these countries can give you excellent ideas on how to increase the productivity of your staff.

In this article, we share our top 40 ranking of the world’s most productive countries, backed by our calculations, which we explain below. In our analysis, we also discuss our findings and explain which factors played a part in the successes of some countries as well as the reasons for the underperformance of others.

The World’s Most Productive Countries: Ranked

PositionCountryHours worked in 2022GDP per capitaProductivity per person, per hour
2Norway 🥈1424.6$114,898.80$80.65
3Ireland 🥉1657.5$126,905.20$76.56
13United States1810.9$76,398.60$42.18
17United Kingdom1531.7$54,602.50$35.64
20New Zealand1748$51,966.90$29.72
22Korea, Rep.1901$50,069.80$26.33
36Slovak Republic1622.1$37,459.50$23.09
38Puerto Rico1861.6$40,497.00$21.75

How Did We Calculate A Country’s Productivity?

We gathered the latest information from the OECD and World Data Bank, dividing each country’s annual GDP by its annual working hours.

We then ranked the top 40 countries by their productivity per person  the result of the division we mentioned. This allowed us to find out which countries had the most effective financial return while spending the least amount of time in the office.

For our ranking, it’s worth noting we only considered countries of which we had access to both the annual GDP and annual working hours. This meant leaving out some of the World Data Bank top GDP earners, as we lacked updated working hours information on them.

In the specific cases of Singapore and Puerto Rico, we were able to find this information from reputable sources, which we quoted above.

The Most Productive Countries

Boasting the biggest productivity per person score is the smallest country on our list: Luxembourg which is proof that size doesn’t matter. 

With each of its workers producing almost $16 per hour more than runner-up Ireland, this tiny nation paved the way in 2023 in terms of productivity thanks to its 40-hour working week, booming financial sector, minimum of 5 weeks paid annual leave, and prohibited employment on Sundays.

The Emerald Isle took the silver medal in our ranking of the most productive countries, which largely comes down to the fact that full-time Irish workers typically work under 40 hours per week.

Ireland’s big population of multinationals has massively contributed to its impressive labour productivity, which has been growing faster than most other countries in Western Europe.

Overall, Northern European countries dominated the top 8 of our list, while Singapore, which sits at position 4, is the only country not located in this region. Scandinavian nations proved particularly successful, with all the countries of the region (Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden) making the top 15. What are these countries doing to rank so highly? looked into the work-life balance of countries around the world, revealing that the Scandinavian nations had one thing in common: their standard working week is less than 40 hours. 

So, by making full use of their evenings and weekends, Scandinavians return to work feeling more refreshed and replenished than employees in countries with longer working weeks, giving the Scandis a stronger sense of mental wellbeing and a better ability to take on the week.

This positive work-life balance is one of the many reasons why Scandinavian countries score highly in the Happiness Index and Quality of Life Scale (QOLS).

In fact, a study from the OECD found Finland, Norway, and Denmark to have the greatest sense of life satisfaction, with each of them scoring more than 7.2/10, which is a deep contrast when compared with the UK’s 6.8/10. This suggests improving employee satisfaction is a great way of spurring productivity.

productive workplace meeting

The Least Productive Countries

Bringing up the rear are four countries that work extremely long hours: Colombia, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Chile.

According to our research, Colombia worked the most hours in 2022 (2,405 hours), which is almost double Germany’s figure of 1,340.

For its part, Mexico put in a lot of man hours as well in 2022 (2,226 hours), followed by Costa Rica (2,149 hours) and Chile (1,962 hours).

When discussing the most productive countries, we talk about work-life balance. In this scenario, it’s all work and no play. Employees living in the least productive countries are likely to be overworked and tired, which could see overall productivity take a dip.

In these four countries, employees are generally expected to work longer hours than their European counterparts. In Mexico, this is down to differing cultural attitudes and socio-economic factors. For instance, there are lax labour laws and some fears about unemployment, which means the maximum 48-hour limit is hardly ever imposed on working weeks.

USA Productivity: The American Dream?

The Land of Opportunity must be one of the most productive countries, right? Well, it has one of the highest GDP per capita, yet still comes in at 13th place in terms of productivity per person. Similarly to Mexico, this comes down to working long hours.

The USA is among the top 12 nations in terms of hours worked in 2022, clocking in 1,810 hours across the year. That’s only 152 hours fewer than Chile, the country that came fourth last in our overall productivity rankings.

This emphasis on working long hours isn’t reflected in Europe, with the top 10 most productive countries all located on the continent and working far fewer hours than the USA.

In the States, you can play hard but you’ll have to work harder. American workers typically work long hours with very few days off. Illustrating this, a study from from US Travel revealed that as many as 768 million paid vacation days go unused in the US. Conversely, the Swedes typically get and use five weeks of paid holiday every year.

It’s also common for American workers to eat lunch at their desk or skip lunch entirely. This leaves the question: is the American workforce hungry for success, or simply hungry?

UK Productivity: The Underachieving Kingdom?

Milling around in mid-table obscurity, the United Kingdom is the 17th most productive country in our ranking. Unsurprisingly, its average position comes down to its average statistics in productivity per person and annual GDP per capita.

The UK was the 13th country that worked the least hours in 2023, yet it still only produced $35.64 in productivity per person. This is about $45 less per person than Norway, which worked a very similar number of hours, and a paltry $5 more than Italy, which worked an extra 162 hours in 2022.

The UK working culture can be very social. Lunches out during the week and social events on Friday afternoons are quite common, which may highlight some inefficiencies in the workplace – especially when compared with the lunchtime-stricken US workforce we discussed earlier.

Of course, the UK’s average stats aren’t just down to socialising. Particularly among the older generation, there’s an emphasis placed on the hours you work, with many people believing that staying late – or even working when you’re ill – makes you appear more valuable to the company.

That said, many UK businesses have realised this approach can be detrimental to productivity and now prioritise mental wellbeing. Hopefully this trend will continue, and we’ll see the UK become more productive as fewer workers are encouraged to burn themselves out.

Workplace counselling session


The data we analysed suggests a link between employee satisfaction and productivity, and countries with high standards of living and a work-life balance taking the top spots in our ranking such as Luxembourg and Norway.

According to our calculations, the countries that performed poorly  like Colombia and Mexico  prove that long hours and few paid holiday days don’t tend to translate into productivity. Overall, the picture these numbers paint is that overwork plays a detrimental part creating a productive workforce.

With this breakdown, you’re better equipped to develop your own internal policies in your business to help bolster the productivity of your staff. As for us at Expert Market, we’ll continue to update these numbers and keep you informed of the latest workplace trends.

Written by:
Lucas Pistilli author headshot photo
Lucas is a Brazilian-born journalist and Expert Market’s go-to writer for all things EPOS systems, merchant accounts, and franking machines. Having covered business, politics and technology for many years, he’s driven by his passion for the written word and his goal to help people make well-informed decisions.