Limited positive effect of leap day on Dutch economy

28/02/2008 15:00

Once in every four calendar years a leap day is intercalated. In a leap year, February has 29 instead of the usual 28 days. The year 2008 is a leap year, but the extra day appears to have little effect on the economy.

Effects on the economy

In a leap year, February has one extra working day. In the nine leap years following 1970, the average economic growth appears to be higher ((3.1 percent) than in non-leap or common years ((2.7 percent).
To put it simply, in a leap year, due to one extra working day, economic growth is pushed up by 0.3 to 0.4 percentage points.

Economic growth in the Netherlands

Economic growth in the Netherlands

Objections to the calculation method

The method used to calculate the effects of leap days on the economy is debatable. For instance, leap years parallel Olympic years. The effect of Olympic Games on the economy is as yet unknown. An extra day is always embedded in the economic climate that prevails at that moment. Furthermore, the difference in the number of working days in a particular year is mainly determined by whether Christmas and/or Boxing Day fall on the weekend or not. If Christmas and/or Boxing Day fall on the weekend, this is favourable for employers. If Christmas and/or Boxing Day fall on weekdays, the number of working days is obviously reduced. Consequently, it is also important, whether an entire sector – e.g. construction or education – is temporarily shut down in the period between Christmas and New Year.

Extra working day without pay

Most people receive their wages on a monthly basis. Monthly wages are not adjusted for the number of working days. February also has the fewest working days in a leap year. In fact, most people work an extra day in a leap year without getting paid for it.

Michiel Vergeer