Austrians - Economy

Subsistence and Commercial Activities. Eighty-five percent of Austrians subsist by selling their labor for wages. However, 10 percent of the population in 1982 maintained a self-sufficient agricultural subsistence. The remaining 5 percent represent various professions who subsist on a fee-for-service basis. Among wage earners, more than half are salaried, white-collar employees in the commercial sector or government service. The blue-collar workers, four in ten of whom are certified as skilled, earn an hourly wage based on a 35- to 40-hour work week. All workers and employees work under contract standards established by the federal government and modified to suit the requirements of specific sectors and industries. All wage earners are currently guaranteed four weeks of paid vacation per year, with additional weeks added with seniority. An extensive program of federally administered benefits (health and unemployment insurance, pensions, general relief, family assistance, housing support, retraining programs, and continuing education) is funded through a gradual and progressive income tax. These taxes tend to level the net incomes of wage earners dramatically.

Industrial Arts. Specialty metals, food processing, chemicals (especially petrochemicals), machine tools, and microelectronics are currently the basis for the greatest industrial-sector growth. Major exports include winter-sports articles, dairy products, and construction materials (lumber and concrete). Real-estate transactions are important to the urban Regional economies. Tourism is also an important source of regional income, especially in Vienna and the Tirol.

Division of Labor. A person's work life begins around age 15 and lasts through the early 60s. Retirement is a respected state, made all the more palatable by high pension payments. During a person's work life, promotions to higher pay and responsibility are age-related, although one can find fast-track promotions in young industries and government. Two-fifths of working-age women are employed outside the home. Among urban households of three persons or more, more than 75 percent of adult women are wage earners. In the rural areas, women are more likely to work at home. In two-income households, women continue to perform the traditional household-maintenance and child-care roles.

Land Tenure. In the alpine zones, land tenure is held within family corporations under the leadership of a single person, usually the senior male. As the elevation drops, land is rented for varying periods of time from a titleholder who may reside elsewhere. In lowland regions, land tends to be held by corporations, many of which are wholly owned within families, but with leadership shared among a number of persons.

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