Are Brazilians really lazy, or are they more hard-working than Europeans?

According to the Economist, Brazilian workers are statistically unproductive. According to a blogger, Brazilians work an average of 44 hours a week, more than the average European.

I’m a European living in Brazil and all of my Brazilian friends work *very* hard. Those that study leave the house at 7am, study until midday, work an internship in the afternoon until 5pm and then return to the university until 10 or 11pm. Every day. Same for those working.

This is the private sector, however, where you will be fired if you don’t work hard. The issue of “Concursos” (the exams you need to pass to enter public service jobs) is one many friends mention as a way to ensure a very easy-going working environment, and one in which it is almost possible to get fired, even if you do the minimum of work.

My friends tell me the public sector is full of workers who know their jobs are safe once they pass the Concurso. Public sector services suffer as a result; they are bloated, corrupt and filled with people just taking home a pay-check. I could see lack of productivity in the public sector ringing true.

The Economist article relies too heavily on the view of one man – a Texan barbeque-owner at that – complaining the Brazilians he hires are lazy. Dude, these will hardly be the cream of the crop, will they? You wouldn’t say the kids working in McDonalds are representative of all American workers, would you?

More environmental activists are murdered here than any other country in the world – are they lazy and afraid of hard work?

My friend works from 8am to 7pm in a store, Monday to Saturday. Do you know how much she is paid? R$1000 a month, or approximately R$4 an hour. That’s US$450 a month, or US$1.90 an hour). She also has a child, and her husband works nights. Is she lazy? Is she unproductive? An iPhone here costs R$2,800 – is my friend on a fair wage?

Property prices are out of control. In Rio and Sao Paulo they’ve risen 200 per cent in six years.

Corruption, lack of infrastructure, high import taxes and bureaucracy are huge problems, but Brazilians work hard to get around them. Here’s the traffic at 6pm at night in Belo Horizonte.

I have Brazilian friends that have set up advertising and design agencies, that make postcards, that film weddings. They all work hard.

And that’s because if you take the easy path in Brazil and you’re not rich you starve. There’s no alternative but to work all the hours you can.


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