The headline in today's Metro proclaims that, contrary to popular belief, it is in fact Walloons who are harder workers than the Flemings. According to a study published in two Flemish newspapers no less, Walloons have more of a work-ethic, attach less importance to their families and hobbies, and believe that the possibilities of finding 'personal development' through their work is far more important to them than taking time off.
The study of around 1500 people, and carried out between April and July 2009, helps to undermine the stereotype of the 'hard-working and conscientious Fleming,' versus the 'lazy, welfare-dependent' Walloon. Well, at least it will in Wallonia. Some 95% of Walloons said that work was important to them, against 93% of Bruxellois and only 85% of Flemings. Even more shocking...the Walloons believed far more that they had a moral obligation to work, and took pleasure in it, not merely as something to do in order to earn money.
Flemings commented that work was merely a means to an ends. A means to be able to spend time enjoying themselves and time with their families. Mr Van der Linden, a psychologist quoted in the newspaper, doubts that just one finding will do much to dispel the long-held stereotypes the north have of the south. The fact that the papers felt the need to print such a story, and made it front page news, shows you how ingrained attitudes are in the two regions.
Whatever the study reveals, the facts tell a different story with regards to who is actually in work. It is Walloons who are more likely to be unemployed and in receipt of state benefits than the Flemings. One reason commonly mentioned is that unemployment is mainly cyclical in Flanders, but structural in Wallonia. And not having a government is surely going to harm the south more.