I think this evidence (the article for the week) for Americans working longer hours is accurate: and theorize that the driving cause is twofold- culture, and basic economics.
Firstly culture. I like Davids' article on cultural motives at play here. In America, advertising has become incessant, blatant, and boring with its overt advances on the consumer in attempts to raise product appeal. Many ppl/families are buying into the ideal of having an expensive mortgage, high car payments, college debt, as well as many other forms of debt. The avg American spends many hours laboring simply to pay the bills one is pressured into believing are necessary. Working to have these 'things' is the ideal and it shows in the hours we work, but the vicious cycle of work following debt is continuous with such a lifestyle.
- The average American household with at least one credit card has nearly $15,950 in credit-card debt (in 2012), according to CreditCards.com, and the average interest rate runs in the mid- to high teens at any given time.
- Avg student debt is a bit over $30k end of 2014
Not saying that debt/materialism is a sole factor, but it certainly seems to be a factor
Now for some basic economic theory.
Notice that even by general standards, German, Italian, and French tax burden is currently much higher than the US. These are some of the major countries studied in the article. I also referenced govt spending against GDP. Governments have so many sources of revenue from which they bleed an economy of profit that I like to look at the aggregate of spending by said govt.
The bulk of taxation in many advanced countries with a large government is actually wasted economic profit and a stifling of opportunity.
Since the drain of the govt collective on overall economic profit is higher, as well as regulation of the variety and means to profit, the incentive to work would follow to be lower, as reported in the article.
Lastly, I like how the author of the article includes an in depth look at ways to correct our social security program at at the end of the article(8,9,10,11). His suggested methods are realistic, and better than what we currently have. Though granted, with the massive problems our current system is facing, that is not difficult to do.