They’re trying to make Spain into Germany or something, to increase productivity. I don’t think they’ll succeed in changing the clock, but even if they do, will it change “productivity”? And are Spaniards any less productive than much of the rest of Europe, anyway?
“We want to see a more efficient culture,” said Ignacio Buqueras, the most outspoken advocate of changing the Spanish schedule. “Spain has to break the bad habits it has accumulated over the past 40 or 50 years.”…
Whether an earlier, more regimented schedule will translate into higher productivity is a matter of dispute. Mr. Buqueras’s group says Spanish workers are on the job longer than German workers but complete only 59 percent of their daily tasks. Measuring productivity is an imprecise science, and while many experts say Spanish productivity is too low, Spain actually outperforms many European countries in some calculations, according to Eurostat, the European Union’s statistical agency.
“These three-hour siestas don’t exist,” said Carlos Angulo Martín, who oversees social analysis at the National Statistics Institute in Madrid. Nor are habits uniform across the country, he said…
I haven’t been to Europe in quite some time, but it seems to me that Spain is hardly alone in this. I seem to recall that Italy used to have a similar schedule, and that France was the land of the leisurely lunch.
But in my not-very-extensive world travels, the country I’ve spent a bit of time in, and which I remember as having a fairly extreme version of the Spanish schedule, is Argentina. I have no idea what it’s like now, but several decades ago one could stroll on the boulevards and in the parks of a summer eve (our winter) at 11 PM and see families with young children all spiffied up and on their way to dinner at one of the ubiquitous steak houses (more like arenas) that seemed to be everywhere.
And the long leisurely lunch offers food, if not for thought, then for relaxation and conviviality:
One friend, Miguel Carbayo, 26, was appalled at the notion of a nap-free lunch. He had worked as an intern in the Netherlands, where his co-workers arrived at 8 and left at 5, with a half-hour to munch on a sandwich for lunch, a regimen he found shocking.
“Reduce lunchtime?” he said. “No, I’m completely against that. It is one thing to eat. It is another thing to nourish oneself. Our culture and customs are our way of living.”
But over time the world is becoming more and more homogenized.