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A UN report places the US as the leader in the world ranking of public debt

The study titled "A World of Debt" also revealed global public debt broke a new record at $97 trillion.


Voz Media (Canva)

In 2023, the United States led the world ranking of public debt (with more than $33 trillion in debt), according to a United Nations (UN) report. The country was followed by China with almost $15 billion and Japan with $10.6 billion.

In its report titled "A world of Debt," the UN Trade and Development Agency (UNCTAD) revealed that global public debt reached the historic figure of $97 trillion last year. This is a $5.6 billion increase compared to 2022.

On the other hand, the interest on global public debt increased to $847 billion in 2023 (26% more than in 2021).

Developing countries account for a third of the total

The study revealed that public debt increased twice as much in developing countries as in richer ones. These countries make up around a third (30% or $29 trillion) of the total debt. The developing countries with the highest public debt are Egypt, Mexico, Brazil and India.

UNCTAD by Veronica Silveri

One in three countries spends more on interest

According to the study, one in three developing countries currently spends more on interest than on programs in "critical areas for human development." Therefore, the increase in debt has a negative impact on countries’ economic capacity to provide its people with the services that many governments offer their citizens almost free of charge (medical care, education, among others):

Developing countries must not be forced to choose between servicing their debt or serving their people (...) The international financial architecture must change to ensure a prosperous future for both people and the planet.