Which are the countries in the most debt?

Suse Steed
5 min readFeb 28, 2022

What the latest data can tell us (and what it cannot).

If you want to know who the most indebted countries in the world are, there is some new data from the International Monetary Fund which might help.

(It might not help, but I’ll come to that later).

The database includes three main types of debt:

  • Public Debt: Sudan has the highest public debt at 270% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). That’s about the same as countries like the UK had at the end of WW2. Greece is second.
  • Household Debt: Switzerland comes up on top with 132% of GDP
  • Non-Financial Corporate Debt:· Luxembourg have the most corporate debt of any country in the database — 342%.

A quick note on what these figures mean — they are reported as percent of GDP. So, Sudan has public debt of 270% which means their national debt is over two times their national income. In comparison the US has a public debt that is 120% of their GDP (source: FRED). If, in contrast you were to report debt as an amount then the US would come out on top, and that is why some sources (like Wikipedia) put the US as the nation with the greatest government debt in the world.

We could debate if this is a good way to report debt and there are lots of things to consider…