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the eu-usa culture difference surrounding money and enjoyment is being overlooked

(117 Posts)
cocacolamonster Mon 23-Apr-18 07:50:04

I was going around Reddit and it occurred to me that too many people are generalising/overlooking some of the strong culture differences that exist between US philosophy and non-US philosophy.

In Europe, we often go to great lengths to limit work hours even if that reduces productivity and looks statistically bad (reducing GDP) and much of society is based around enjoyment of life without money.

You raise children not to prepare them for a job, but rather either for enjoyment of life or to do some sort of moral good (become a doctor or politician).

A lot of Americans are still quite materialistic from a European perspective - universities are about making money there, a job's salary is most paramount, etc...

I'm Indian (or Sri Lankan) too. They don't have such a strong materialistic culture there as well. It is widely common for people to not peruse money in order to work towards a moral or cultural good - which many economists blame for the worse economic growth among Indians vis-a-vis more materialistic cultures such as China where money creation is views as a major aspect of success. Indian philosophies historically found that chasing money wouldn't lead to a better quality of life.

I'm not quite sure how most British people feel about paper chasing now considering the prevalence of US culture in the English speaking world.

TenGinBottles Mon 23-Apr-18 07:56:16

When is your submission date?

cocacolamonster Mon 23-Apr-18 08:00:31

@TenGinBottles what?

Yarnswift Mon 23-Apr-18 08:03:03

This is actually a salient point when you work globally. I work for a USA based company and one of the biggest stresses in my life is juggling their expectations from a US perspective with the social expectations of the country I live in.

So they pay EU wages and I pay Swedish taxes. But they expect US hours and get very grumpy about Swedish vacation times. Lots and lots of passive aggressive comments about taking time off at any point.
They are paid double what I am. And taxed about 35% of what I am.

It’s a constant struggle to stop them arranging routine meetings for 9pm my time when there’s no need to for example. We have overlap in our working days but they seem oblivious of time zones. I’ve had to explain time zones to several colleagues (these are educated people btw.)
Very few of my US colleagues have been or lived/worked abroad and it can result in a quite insular outlook.

Most of this you can shrug off of deal with with grace and humour but they have also breached employment law more than once and that’s when it gets difficult.
I work with people from all over the globe and that is actually one of my favourite things about the job. The hardest country/s to deal with are probably Japan because of the etiquette needed which can be a minefield and the USA.

I hope that doesn’t come across as USA-bashing. It’s a county I know and like and I’m well aware it’s very diverse - but it can also feel like a constant slog to assert very basic employment rights.

My last boss was mortally offended that I took more than 8 weeks maternity leave and tried to have me fired for it, just as one example.

Thundercracker Mon 23-Apr-18 08:04:05

[Grin] TenGinBottles

Ireland has higher GDP than the US, Luxembourg higher still but that's the tax advantages for you. For someone who is alert to generalising, you aren't half good at it.

5foot5 Mon 23-Apr-18 08:04:08

I assume TenGinBottles thinks you are canvassing opinions to use in an essay you have to write

TheHulksPurplePants Mon 23-Apr-18 08:04:12

What world are you living in?

Yarnswift Mon 23-Apr-18 08:05:37

I’m also not sure you can generalise totally by country - I’m an expat and the one common thread I think is that people in this community are generally professionals who are focused on education and achievement- I know several Sri Lankan/Swedish families and they’re just as keen on education and tutoring as all the Chinese/Indian/British families.
Many of the Americans I know came over here to escape the sort of pressure you describe as well.

I don’t think it’s as simple as ‘x culture has a higher plane of thinking and y culture are materialistic bastards.’

Childrenofthesun Mon 23-Apr-18 08:07:06

I would hate to work in the US. Long working hours, little holiday, few employment rights. How do they get to enjoy their huge salaries if they have no leisure time?

Also, a significant proportion of the population doesn't even get the high salaries. The level of poverty in parts of the US is shocking for the richest country in the world.

I worry that our government has a more US-based model in mind for post-Brexit.

Birdsgottafly Mon 23-Apr-18 08:07:10

I was just about to bring up maternity leave. Its still shocking that so little time is given, or expected to be taken off, even after C-Sections etc.

TenGinBottles Mon 23-Apr-18 08:09:56

Reads a bit like an assignment title to me, plus a list of points you should consider whilst writing up...

TheHulksPurplePants Mon 23-Apr-18 08:11:01

Sorry. Been working overseas for 12 years with a huge variety of different cultures. Everyone is just as materialistic as the other. No one is doing anything for free. No one is giving up money for shorter working hours or longer maternity leave. The difference between the US & Europe in terms of maternity leaves and office hours is that Europeans pay more taxes and expect more from that. If Americans paid the taxes Europeans do, they'd expect the same benefits.

As for Indians/Sri Lankans not being materialistic, you MUST be kidding!

Locotion Mon 23-Apr-18 08:11:11

I understand what youre saying OP and it is a good point. With EU departure will we be leaving behind the likelihood of following their shorter worker day culture (in scandinavia at least).

reallybadidea Mon 23-Apr-18 08:11:33

Completely OT but mumsnet used to be full of interesting threads like this. I think it speaks volumes that the first reply is a suggestion that the OP has an ulterior motive - shows how much this site has been dumbed down and filled with CF and parking threads.

Sorry, please carry on grin

Yarnswift Mon 23-Apr-18 08:12:55

* How do they get to enjoy their huge salaries if they have no leisure time?*

Which is the reason I’ve declined all offers of jobs/moves there. I’m paid enough - not rich by any means but we have enough to pay our bills, live and save if we are careful. We live in a safe country with low crime and low inequality. We have almost free childcare (150 pounds a month ish) and we have state funded healthcare.

In order to have a similar level of quality of life in the USA we’d need to be paid 3-4x what we are here, and even then we’d get no holidays, and less time as a family. It’s a no brainer for us. We may in the future move somewhere else if work opportunities present but the package to move to the USA would need to be seriously good to counter the disadvantages.

Possibly Oz, or Switzerland one day. Or back to the UK.

Yes, the government will start slashing worker benefits post brexit. Just watch. That’s the NHS doomed too.

cocacolamonster Mon 23-Apr-18 08:15:03


It's not that. I travel a lot for work and I am constantly shocked at how people presume that we follow the "American" model.

I also find some of the culture differences between Indian Americans and British Indians to be a bit overt - for example, Indian Americans tend to be more obsessed about personal wealth (e.g. racism in jobs and immigration) whereas Non-American Indians tend to me more concerned about the wider well-being of the ethnicity.

TenGinBottles Mon 23-Apr-18 08:17:58

I'm just cynical grin and it sounds like the sort of essay titles we used to be given, rather than a conversation starter

cocacolamonster Mon 23-Apr-18 08:19:58


There are some very strong cultural differences. The university argument is the most prominent - US universities tend to be more focused on making money, whereas European universities then to be more philosophical and focused on improving knowledge or advancing research.

It's touted as a major reason why the US economy is doing better.

Adversecamber22 Mon 23-Apr-18 08:20:34

I was going to visit the US, my niece was pg, , I was going two months after her due date and was quite excited that she would be around on ML. Big mistake she was having six weeks off. She has a well paid job as a research scientist and she told me her ML deal was actually very good.

stopfuckingshoutingatme Mon 23-Apr-18 08:22:15

Yup American company too

Which equals a long hours culture

When I visit the med relatives I am astounded 😮 by the free time they have

Some of My London mates in high paid roles work 9-5 ! Can’t even imagine that

cocacolamonster Mon 23-Apr-18 08:32:07


Indian and Sri Lankans basically follow the same cultural/philosophical values, its just that most of the South Indian states are less westernised than the North Indian states (but this is with the more liberal Indian philosophies so often that doesn't really equate to a worse quality of life for the Indians).

I guess the caste system was historically more strict in parts of North India whereas is it is non-existent in large tracts of the south - i.e. it is more cultural down south as Hinduism intended.

AjasLipstick Mon 23-Apr-18 08:37:40

I agree....I left the UK for Australia and thankfully the determination to have a good time and enjoy life is even stronger here!

People get a lot of public holidays here in Australia and there's a lot of what I would consider European habits such as sitting around drinking coffee or wine for hours in public places and people watching.

claraschu Mon 23-Apr-18 08:43:32

There is another side to this-

In the US, there is also a very idealistic (some would say unrealistic) point of view when it comes to education and university. A lot of Americans are surprised by the early specialisation in the UK, and the extent to which university courses are pragmatic, and directed toward specific jobs. The whole University system in the US is set up to encourage people to become well rounded, multi-faceted people, and it is not even possible to study to be a doctor or lawyer right out of high school.

RussellGroupIe Mon 23-Apr-18 08:48:26

TenGin - if you don't want to engage in what could be an interesting discussion, hide the thread rather than trying to be a smart arse.

TheHulksPurplePants Mon 23-Apr-18 08:55:50

There are some very strong cultural differences. The university argument is the most prominent - US universities tend to be more focused on making money, whereas European universities then to be more philosophical and focused on improving knowledge or advancing research.

Coming from a university background I wouldn't say that's accurate. All universities globally compete for students, and even with government funds, all universities need money from patents & research to survive.

There are many reasons for the apparent differences, mostly stemming from a European "brain-drain" before and after WWI and WWII to the more safe, secure and less worn torn US, but it's not because the Europeans are any less focused on making money from research.

Also, I think the focus on college level sports in the US drives the idea that they are money focused.

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