AEE 450: Do You Work Like a Dog? The Reason Behind the American Work Ethic

American work ethic and American English

Why do Americans work so hard?

Today we’ll dig into the American work ethic and try to figure out why Americans work as hard as they do.

You’ll also learn 5 idioms that highlight the work ethic in the United States.

Do Americans live to work while other cultures work to live?

This is the common saying that a lot of people come back to when they talk about Americans and the workplace.

We think that work ethic differences come back to some basic cross-cultural differences like the idea that control over our lives comes from within or comes from external sources.

The Pew Research Center found that 57% of Americans disagreed with this: “Success in life is pretty much determined by forces outside of our control.”

This means that most Americans think that it’s in our control to be successful.

If you believe that then you are going to work hard.

“When asked about how important working hard is to getting ahead in life, 73% of Americans said it was very important compared with the global medium of 50% among the 44 countries that were surveyed.”

Pew Research Center Study

But there are real barriers to success around the world including class differences, corruption, racism, homophobia, sexism.

The American work ethic is also in our language.

Idioms about work in American English:

  • To work like a dog
  • To work yourself into the ground
  • Workin’ hard or hardly workin’
  • To pull your own weight

Listen to the conversation between Lindsay and Michelle where we use these expressions in the conversation.

Also, let us know your answer to this question: Is success more in your own control or outside of your control?

Let’s have a conversation about this.

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