15+ Dread Inducing Debt Statistics for 2023
Updated · May 20, 2023
Modern technology, infrastructure, easy living—in the last 100 years our lifestyles have really changed for the better.
However, not everything is joy and rainbows. Another thing that’s also changed significantly in the last decades is debt. People are more in debt today than ever. Average debt in America is hitting records every year, groups who’ve previously been relatively debt-free (e.g., students) are now taking large loans they struggle to pay, and the economy is simply over-reliant on debt.
This is why today we’ll tackle some of the most important debt statistics—as a way to see how many people are in debt, what is the average amount of loans people take, and what we should make of all of this.
Let’s waste no more time and get right into the fundamentals:
Essential Debt Statistics in 2022 (Editor’s Choice)
- The United States owes around $30 trillion.
- Total household debt in America is $15 trillion.
- Average household in the US owes around $155,000.
- Corporate debt in the US amounts to $11 trillion.
- Americans have around $900 billion in credit card debt.
- American students owe more than $1.5 trillion.
- Global debt is $226 trillion, 256% of the global GDP.
- Jérôme Kerviel has the biggest personal debt—$6.3 billion.
Average Debt in America in 2022
The US regularly tops the infamous list containing the most in-debt countries in the world. Let’s dive deeper into this financial black hole:
1. By January 2022, US public debt reached $30 trillion.
30 trillion! As a comparison, the whole global economy is worth around $90 trillion.
2. American household debt is $15 trillion.
This includes things like mortgages, car loans, and credit cards. Mortgages are by far the most important contributor to American household debt, with around $10 trillion.
What percentage of America is debt-free? It’s likely that only around 20% of all US households don’t have any kind of debt.
That being said, do you know how much money America has? The GDP of the US is around $20 trillion—less than its total debt—something economists point out as a big no-no. This, of course, is a combination of various important factors, including large companies’ desire to always grow and people’s habits.
3. Credit card debt in the US totals $860 billion.
In recent months the credit card debt increased sharply, due to the easing of the COVID-19 restrictions. During the main blow of the coronavirus pandemic, it was somewhat harder to spend money (though online shopping grew significantly) and this actually resulted in less credit card spending.
However, Americans have quickly made up for this short period of shopping inactivity.
4. Corporate debt in America is $11 trillion.
(Source: Wealth Management)
Together with public and household debt, corporate debt forms the third major type of debt as defined by the International Monetary Fund.
5. Average household debt in America is around $155,000.
As we’ve already mentioned, mortgages are the main contributor, though car loans, credit cards, and student loans play a substantial part here.
Real estate is probably one of the most important sectors for financial stability. Back in 2008-2009, it was real estate that sent shockwaves across the world, sparking a financial crisis.
6. For middle-aged citizens, US debt per person reaches $136,000.
This is how much an average American owes. Things look somewhat different, though, when we break up all Americans into generational groups:
- Older people (75+)—$40,925
- Baby boomers (between 56 and 74)—$96,984
- Generation X (40 to 55)—$135,841
- Millennials (24 to 39)—$78,396
- Generation Z (18 to 23)—$9,593
Understandably, Generation X has the most debt as they are generally in the most stable periods of their life and careers when banks are ready to allow them more serious loans.
Older Americans aren’t that much in debt, as they’ve had more time to pay it off. Moreover, they are less likely to have taken larger loans in the first place.
7. By 2022, the total credit card debt in the US amounted to $856 billion.
(Source: Lending Tree)
Americans simply love their credit cards! Their US credit card debt is equal to the total GDP of a country like Switzerland.
Credit card debt is perhaps the least rational of all types of debt—it’s one thing to take a large loan to buy a house or a new car, but there are millions of Americans who are using their best plastic friends to purchase things they really don’t need.
8. Alaskans have the biggest average credit card debt ($7,000).
Then come the District of Columbia ($6,300), Connecticut ($6,200), Hawaii ($6,200). On the other hand, Mississippi is on the bottom of the list with the least average amount ($4,800).
Student Debt Statistics
An important contributor to the total US debt are student loans. Let’s see why young Americans have to take such large loans to finance their education:
9. In 2021, student loan debt amounted to more than $1.5 trillion.
How much student debt is there in the US? According to Investopedia, American students owe around $38,000 on average.
CNBC gives an even more pessimistic estimation of total student loan debt in America ($1.7 trillion), although the average student debt is somewhat lower.
Moreover, the same source stated that students from New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Rhode Island have the largest student loans, as opposed to New Mexico, Utah, and Nevada. Though, perhaps this is a reflection of the tuition fees in these respective states.
10. In 2000, the average student debt was $17,350.
(Source: Education Data)
When adjusted to inflation, the number reaches $27,240. Education Data also gives a much more optimistic estimation of the average student debt these days—$31,100 per student.
Interestingly enough, the median student debt is around $17,000—significantly less than the average. What does this mean? Probably that there is a small but significant group of student debtors who have extremely large loans, which are skewing the average. Median of $17,000 means that half of all American students in debt have lower loans, while the others have larger loans than this amount.
11. Student loan debt increased by 90% in the last 10 years.
Student loan statistics are indeed showing some concerning trends. Student loan debt is increasing rather quickly—more or less a sign that higher education is getting more and more expensive and unavailable to people.
College student debt is a major problem in the US, as it strikes the American middle class the hardest. Middle-class Americans have always been the major driver of success, so we’ll have to wait and see how and if they will solve this big issue.
International Debt Statistics
Practically all countries in the world have some kind of debt, perhaps not to the extent of the US, though. Time we jumped right into the essential global debt stats:
12. Global Debt to GDP ratio is abysmal, with global debt amounting to 256% of GDP.
This means that global debt is around 2.5 times larger than global GDP and we owe much more than we produce.
13. Total world debt is $226 trillion.
The International Monetary Fund expects this to further increase in the years to come. Public and corporate debt are by far the most serious contributors, but household debt also catches up in recent years.
14. Japan is the country with the highest debt to GDP ratio—237%.
(Source: World Population Review)
It’s followed by:
- Cape Verde—125%
- United States—107%
Japan is very active in the financial sector, which contributes to its large private corporate and public debts. Japan’s economy experienced a real boom in the latter part of the 20th century, but has since slowed down. Now, the changing demographic situation (less and less young people), coupled with anti-immigration policies (Japan is a relatively xenophobic culture) contribute to an increasingly dire economic situation. A similar case can be made for Singapore.
Other countries on this list (e.g., Greece and Lebanon) have recently suffered economic crises.
It’s pretty interesting to see how the situation changed in just two years. Debt stats from 2020 show that Venezuela had the worst debt to GDP ratio (over 300%) due to ideological clashes between the Venezuelan government and some other important countries in the world. After Venezuela, came Sudan (272%), Japan (254%), Greece (211%), Eritrea (184%), etc.
Perhaps the most surprising appearance is that of Japan, which is generally regarded as one of the world’s most successful economies. However, we now know that Japan has a big debt problem.
The USA had a relatively stable debt to GDP ratio of 133%.
15. Hong Kong has the highest household debt to GDP ratio (258%).
(Source: Global Economy)
Statista’s research shows that Hong Kong’s citizens have the largest household debt with respect to their GDP. The rest of the list includes the US (216%), China (182%), Japan (176%), Norway (165%), Denmark (163%), etc.
According to household debt by country stats coming from the Global Economy Agency, Switzerland’s household debt is much larger than its GDP. The same is true for Australia (120%), Norway (111%), Canada (108%), and others.
You’ve probably noticed a trend here—these are all rather wealthy nations, and, more specifically, nations with extremely high standards of living. Real estate prices (in the cities at least) are very high there, so people have to take large loans to acquire property, resulting in large amounts of debt.
We can also see how sometimes debt statistics differ quite a lot between agencies. Besides the fact that Statista and Global Economy probably have different methodologies, you also have to take all stats with a grain of salt.
16. Japan has the largest debt per capita—$95,831.
(Source: Country Economy)
Probably rather unexpected, what with all the talks about the US being very much in debt. The average debt in America is indeed a big issue, but we can see that Japan and Singapore actually have worse debt per capita stats:
- United Kingdom—$42,330
We can see that country debt rankings roughly stay the same when we compare household debt stats and absolute per capita debt. All the usual suspects are here—the US, Japan, and some of the biggest European countries.
17. Jérôme Kerviel, a former French bank trader, has the largest personal debt in the world—$6.3 billion.
(Source: The Atlantic)
Kerviel didn’t simply take a loan to spend it on parties and an easy life. Kerviel worked for a large European bank when he decided to become a rogue trader.
He searched for price discrepancies in markets and invested much more money than he was supposed to, ultimately losing billions. His bank sued him, ending up in him having to pay $6.3 billion, which, of course, is something he will never be able to do. He was also sentenced to three years in prison.
It has to be said that Kerviel perhaps didn’t work on his own, and that higher bank officials are probably involved in this case. Kerviel was just the perfect scapegoat and someone they could shift all blame to.
It seems as if an increasing debt is a necessary companion of economic progress. The wealthier we become, the more money we owe.
So far, this economic model seems to be functioning well, though we’ll have to be very careful in the future. The most recent debt statistics are somewhat alarming, perhaps suggesting that we should even be more skeptical about loans and credits.
Only time will tell.
Unaware that life beyond the internet exists, Nick is poking servers and control panels, playing with WordPress add-ons, and helping people get the hosting that suits them.