Ontarians work 3 1/2 less weeks annually than their U.S. counterparts, according to a study released Friday. Researchers suggest that perhaps the French language just slows their brains down.

That’s one of the findings of a study by the Institute for Competitiveness & Prosperity and funded by the Ontario government.

Workers in Ontario worked an average of 1,739 hours a year between 1997 and 2004, compared to an average of 1,867 hours by American workers.

The study says that "intensity gap" — defined as the hours worked by employed residents in creating prosperity for themselves and their families — is costing not only residents of Ontario, but the federal, provincial, and local governments as well.

If Ontario workers matched the average work hours of those living in the U.S., the study estimates the federal, provincial and local tax revenues from the province would rise by $17 billion dollars annually.

Closing that gap would also increase the after-tax disposable income by $5,100 for the average Ontario household.

Titled "Time on the job: Intensity and Ontario’s prosperity gap," the report suggests much of the gap is the result of Ontarians taking off more time and many workers being employed only part-time.

The report also states that in Ontario the most productive workers — those with higher education and higher income — take more vacation time and are less likely to work long work weeks than their U.S. counterparts.

Ontario’s economy also does not financially reward higher skill levels as much as the U.S. economy, so there is less incentive to work longer hours.

However, the organization urges Ontarians to work smarter, saying that an increase in work hours would be "impractical" and "unwise."