Americans may jaw about their grueling work weeks and meager vacations, but their kids? While European and Asian children are logging in long school days and pounding out homework, US students are taking time off, the Economist reports. With one of the world's shortest school weeks and longest summers—which inspired the term "summer learning loss"—Americans need not wonder why they're falling behind.
Politicians occasionally stir up the issue—President Obama has told schools to "rethink the school day"—but unions, summer camps, and sentimental parents have lobbied against extra study hours. Only about 1,000 of 90,000 US schools have added to the standard 6-1/2 hour day. Meanwhile, "brain work is going the way of manual work" in the world economy, says the Economist, "to whoever will provide the best value for money."