Imagine a country whose inhabitants work fewer hours than almost any others, whose workforce is not particularly productive and whose children spend less time at school than most of its neighbours.
Hardly a recipe for economic success, you might think.
But the country described above is none other than Germany, Europe’s industrial powerhouse and the world’s second largest exporter; a country whose economy has single-handedly stopped the eurozone falling back into recession and the only nation rich enough to save the euro.
When you consider that only the Dutch work fewer hours among the 34 members of the OECD, that German children spend 25% less time in the classroom than their Italian counterparts, and that there are six more productive economies in Europe alone, these facts appear all the more remarkable.
So why is the German economy so powerful, and what lessons can the rest of us learn from it?