With the lowest child-poverty rate among developed nations, Denmark was named the best country for work-life balance in a 2011 report from the OECD.
All three Scandinavian countries -- Denmark, Sweden, and Norway -- finished in the top seven in the ranking. So famous for their generous social safety net, which sharply divides liberals and conservatives between envy and consternation, northern Europe dominated the list, taking almost all the top ten spots.
What constitutes a balance between work and life? The OECD settled on three chief variables: (1) The share of the labor force that works very long hours (more than 50 hours a week); (2) time spent on "leisure and personal care" (defined in contrast to paid or unpaid work as spending time with friends, going to the movies, pursuing hobbies, sleeping, eating, etc.); and (3) employment rates for women who have children. The United States, which leads most of the world in share of mothers who are working, lagged in leisure time and share of overworked employees. Onto the list, with some analysis below:
The OECD chided the U.S. for insufficient investment in child welfare and for being "the only OECD country without a national paid parental leave policy." But leave is short for a reason, they wrote: Much of our welfare is run through our tax code, which means we have to work for our welfare. "US family well-being is strongly linked to employment because a significant proportion of public family support is delivered via tax breaks and credits (45% of total compared to 10% on average in the OECD)," the report found.