Well, this is interesting. Productivity has been relatively high in France for quite some time, and I have long heard this fact attributed to the stifling wage laws that make it so difficult to fire employees in France that French business owners are discouraged from hiring in the first place and resort to squeezing more work from a relative few. At Salisbury Review, Dalrymple notes that productivity is higher in France than in Great Britain and finds an example in a comparison of French and British burglars:
…the gendarmes (400 of them) had dismantled a network of burglars who had specialised in the burglary of wine-producing chateaus, their booty being not the videos and other electronic apparatuses that are the cynosure of dim British burglars, but fine wines and works of art, as well as cash and cars.
…what is interesting about this story is the way in which refinement has rubbed off even on the gens du voyage [the French gypsies responsible for the burglary]. They know a good vintage when they see it, and can distinguish a work of art from an i-Pad. In Britain they steal for quantity; in France for quality. Just like hours worked.