Public debt is the total amount of money owed by the government to creditors. It is usually presented as a percent of gross domestic product (GDP). Because of the global financial crisis and the euro zone sovereign debt crisis, Advanced Economies have followed a particularly dangerous trajectory of indebtedness in recent years.

Author: Valentina Pasquali
Project Coordinator: S.J. Yun

Total debt for OECD countries was nearly 80% of total OECD GDP in 2008 and is expected to grow to 111.2% in 2015. Individual countries within the OECD ranged in 2014 from a low of 13% of debt to GDP in Estonia to more than 230% in Japan.

The financial crisis that began in late 2007, with its mix of liquidity crunch, decreased tax revenues, huge economic stimulus programs, recapitalizations of banks and so on and so forth, led to a dramatic increase in the public debt for most advanced economies. Public debt as a percent of GDP in OECD countries as a whole went from hovering around 70% throughout the 1990s to more than 110% in 2014. It is now projected to grow to 111.2% of GDP by 2015. This trend is visible not only in countries with a history of debt problems - such as Japan, Italy, Belgium and Greece - but also in countries where it was relatively low before the crisis - such as the US, UK, France, Portugal and Ireland.

Country
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
Australia 13.9 19.4 23.6 27.0 32.1 33.1 35.2 35.9
Austria 68.7 74.3 78.8 80.6 86.0 83.4 90.0 89.5
Belgium 92.6 101.0 100.9 104.1 106.4 106.7 106.8 105.4
Canada 74.7 87.4 89.5 93.6 96.1 93.6 94.2 93.6
Czech Republic 34.4 40.8 45.2 48.2 55.7 57.1 58.8 60.9
Denmark 41.4 49.3 53.1 59.9 59.3 55.2 56.5 59.3
Estonia 8.5 12.6 12.4 9.6 13.3 13.1 13.0 12.7
Finland 40.3 51.8 57.9 58.2 64.0 66.4 69.3 70.1
France 79.3 91.4 95.7 99.3 109.3 112.6 115.1 116.1
Germany 69.9 77.5 86.2 85.8 88.5 85.9 83.9 79.8
Greece 122.5 138.3 157.3 179.9 167.5 186.0 188.7 188.2
Hungary 77.2 86.4 87.7 86.8 90.0 89.4 90.3 90.1
Iceland 76.4 94.5 100.1 106.8 103.7 97.9 96.0 91.3
Ireland 50.1 71.1 88.5 103.9 127.8 134.6 133.1 132.0
Israel  (1) 72.9 75.3 71.5 69.7 68.2 67.8 67.6 67.0
Italy 118.9 132.4 131.1 124.0 142.2 145.5 147.2 147.4
Japan 171.1 188.7 193.3 209.5 216.5 224.6 229.6 232.5
Korea 28.3 31.0 31.8 33.3 34.8 36.5 37.9 39.0
Luxembourg 19.3 19.2 26.2 26.3 30.2 30.3 31.6 33.5
Netherlands 64.8 67.6 71.9 76.1 82.7 86.2 87.5 87.7
New Zealand 28.7 34.0 37.8 41.3 42.4 40.6 39.3 38.1
Norway 55.2 49.0 49.3 33.9 34.7 35.6 36.7 39.6
Poland 55.5 57.6 62.2 63.0 62.3 63.8 56.8 58.4
Portugal 80.8 94.0 104.0 118.4 134.6 139.4 141.3 142.2
Slovak Republic 32.2 40.4 45.9 48.3 56.9 59.3 59.1 60.1
Slovenia 28.9 43.3 47.6 51.2 61.6 80.5 85.9 89.7
Spain 48.0 63.3 68.4 78.8 92.6 104.0 108.5 111.5
Sweden 48.3 50.2 47.3 47.6 46.7 47.1 48.5 48.3
Switzerland 48.3 47.5 46.2 46.3 46.5 46.2 45.9 45.3
United Kingdom 57.3 72.1 81.7 97.1 101.6 99.3 101.7 103.1
United States 72.6 85.8 94.6 98.8 102.1 104.3 106.2 106.5
Euro area (15 countries) 78.0 88.8 93.9 95.9 104.4 106.7 107.7 106.9
OECD-Total 79.9 91.2 97.5 102.1 107.1 109.5 111.1 111.2

Next Page: IMF Survey of Public Debt

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