My professor that I've worked for, and other professors that I've met in undergrad, often complain about how it is "publish or death" situation in their department. Specifically, they have told me that they feel like they are under heavy pressure to publish, often having to work for late nights and weekends. It's somewhat ironic because they thought that life would get much easier once they finish PhD and perhaps get a tenure, which is exactly what I'm thinking now.
However, they told me that they are often over-worked and burnt out as well, just like many other PhD students. It might be worst because for many of them, it's been a long marathon, working day and night to obtain PhD, just to compete with many outstanding candidates fighting for limited positions in universities, and if they have successfully secured the job, to work insanely to impress other colleagues and get tenured.
Even for tenured professors, while they won't be fired for not publishing, they have told me that they are often looked down upon if they don't publish many papers in good journals, especially since they are now 'senior researcher' in the department. While these are purely anecdotal with very limited sample, I feel that there might be some truth in their complaints.
My question is: Is it common for professors in university to be under such high pressure and constant competition? Why do people want to go into academia if they are under such stress?
I personally would not want to go into academia, if I know that for the rest of my career, I'd be under constant pressure to outperform others and publish as many papers as possible in the best journals. I may be naive, but I feel that workload in academia easily exceeds that of industry job with fixed 9-5 hours, and I doubt many industry jobs have such fierce competition among the 'best of the best'.
I'm aware that this may be field-dependent, so I'm interested to hear from people's experiences in many fields. I'm currently in US, but I want to hear from experiences in other countries if they have different cultures.