Consumer debt

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Consumer and Government Debt as a % of GDP (United States) Consumer and Government Debt as a %25 of GDP.png
Consumer and Government Debt as a % of GDP (United States)

In economics, consumer debt is the amount owed by consumers (as opposed to amounts owed by businesses or governments). It includes debts incurred on purchase of goods that are consumable and/or do not appreciate. In macroeconomic terms, it is debt which is used to fund consumption rather than investment. [1]


The most common forms of consumer debt are credit card debt, payday loans, and other consumer finance, which are often at higher interest rates than long-term secured loans, such as mortgages.

Long-term consumer debt is often considered fiscally suboptimal. While some consumer items such as automobiles may be marketed as having high levels of utility that justify incurring short-term debt, most consumer goods are not. For example, incurring high-interest consumer debt through buying a big-screen television "now", rather than saving for it, cannot usually be financially justified by the subjective benefits of having the television early.

In many countries, the ease with which individuals can accumulate consumer debt beyond their means to repay has precipitated a growth industry in debt consolidation and credit counseling.

The amount of debt outstanding versus the consumer's disposable income is expressed as the consumer leverage ratio. On a monthly basis, this debt ratio is advised to be no more than 20 percent of an individuals take-home pay. [2] The interest rate charged depends on a range of factors, including the economic climate, perceived ability of the customer to repay, competitive pressures from other lenders, and the inherent structure and security of the credit product. Rates generally range from 0.25 percent above base rate, to well into double figures. Consumer debt is also associated with predatory lending, although there is much debate as to what exactly constitutes predatory lending.

In recent years, an alternative analysis might view consumer debt as a way to increase domestic production, on the grounds that if credit is easily available, the increased demand for consumer goods should cause an increase of overall domestic production. The permanent income hypothesis suggests that consumers take debt to smooth consumption throughout their lives, borrowing to finance expenditures (particularly housing and schooling) earlier in their lives and paying down debt during higher-earning periods.

Personal debt is on the rise, particularly in the United States and the United Kingdom. However, according to the US Federal Reserve [ when? ], the US household debt service ratio is at the lowest level since its peak in the Fall of 2007. [3]

Debt-to-GDP ratio, consumer leverage ratio

A country's private debt can be measured as a 'debt-to-GDP ratio', which is the total outstanding private debt of its residents divided by that nation's annual GDP. A variant is the consumer leverage ratio, which is the ratio of debt to personal income.

List of countries

List of countries by consumer debt as % of GDP
Country/Region1960 [4] 2016 [5]
Flag of Afghanistan.svg  Afghanistan  3.6
Flag of Albania.svg  Albania  34.5
Flag of Algeria.svg  Algeria  23.5
Flag of American Samoa.svg  American Samoa (US)  
Flag of Andorra.svg  Andorra   
Flag of Angola.svg  Angola  21.0
Flag of Antigua and Barbuda.svg  Antigua and Barbuda  48.3
Flag of Argentina.svg  Argentina  14.0
Flag of Armenia.svg  Armenia  48.9
Flag of Aruba.svg  Aruba (Netherlands)  
Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia  142.9
Flag of Austria.svg  Austria  85.6
Flag of Azerbaijan.svg  Azerbaijan  26.6
Flag of the Bahamas.svg  Bahamas, The  68.2
Flag of Bahrain.svg  Bahrain   
Flag of Bangladesh.svg  Bangladesh  44.4
Flag of Barbados.svg  Barbados   
Flag of Belarus.svg  Belarus  25.9
Flag of Belgium (civil).svg  Belgium  64.7
Flag of Belize.svg  Belize  56.8
Flag of Benin.svg  Benin  21.8
Flag of Bermuda.svg  Bermuda (UK)  
Flag of Bhutan.svg  Bhutan  46.5
Flag of Bolivia.svg  Bolivia  64.2
Flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina.svg  Bosnia and Herzegovina  54.3
Flag of Botswana.svg  Botswana  32.3
Flag of Brazil.svg  Brazil  62.2
Flag of the British Virgin Islands.svg  British Virgin Islands (UK)  
Flag of Brunei.svg  Brunei  44.3
Flag of Bulgaria.svg  Bulgaria  53.6
Flag of Burkina Faso.svg  Burkina Faso  26.6
Flag of Burundi.svg  Burundi  16.7
Flag of Cape Verde.svg  Cabo Verde  63.0
Flag of Cambodia.svg  Cambodia  69.7
Flag of Cameroon.svg  Cameroon  20.8
Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada   
Flag of the Cayman Islands.svg  Cayman Islands (UK)  
Flag of the Central African Republic.svg  Central African Republic 11.212.8
Flag of Chad.svg  Chad 3.510.2
  Channel Islands (UK)  
Flag of Chile.svg  Chile 22.1112.1
Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg  China  156.7
Flag of Colombia.svg  Colombia 22.947.1
Flag of the Comoros.svg  Comoros  26.5
Flag of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.svg  Congo, Dem. Rep.  7.8
Flag of the Republic of the Congo.svg  Congo, Rep. 22.225.0
Flag of Costa Rica.svg  Costa Rica 27.059.3
Flag of Cote d'Ivoire.svg  Côte d'Ivoire  22.7
Flag of Croatia.svg  Croatia  61.6
Flag of Cuba.svg  Cuba   
Flag of Curacao.svg  Curaçao (Netherlands)  
Flag of Cyprus.svg  Cyprus  230.1
Flag of the Czech Republic.svg  Czech Republic  51.8
Flag of Denmark.svg  Denmark 44.5 
Flag of Djibouti.svg  Djibouti   
Flag of Dominica.svg  Dominica  51.5
Flag of the Dominican Republic.svg  Dominican Republic 5.828.4
Flag of Ecuador.svg  Ecuador 25.629.4
Flag of Egypt.svg  Egypt  34.1
Flag of El Salvador.svg  El Salvador  45.6
Flag of Equatorial Guinea.svg  Equatorial Guinea  19.1
Flag of Eritrea.svg  Eritrea   
Flag of Estonia.svg  Estonia  72.6
Flag of Eswatini.svg  Eswatini (Swaziland)  21.6
Flag of Ethiopia.svg  Ethiopia   
Flag of the Faroe Islands.svg  Faroe Islands (Denmark)  
Flag of Fiji.svg  Fiji  89.9
Flag of Finland.svg  Finland 36.895.5
Flag of France.svg  France 20.097.6
Flag of French Polynesia.svg  French Polynesia (France)  
Flag of Gabon.svg  Gabon 8.213.6
Flag of The Gambia.svg  Gambia, The   
Flag of Georgia.svg  Georgia  62.0
Flag of Germany.svg  Germany  77.5
Flag of Ghana.svg  Ghana 4.619.6
Flag of Gibraltar.svg  Gibraltar   
Flag of Greece.svg  Greece 12.2107.7
Flag of Greenland.svg  Greenland (Denmark)  
Flag of Grenada.svg  Grenada  56.1
Flag of Guam.svg  Guam (US)  
Flag of Guatemala.svg  Guatemala 10.134.3
Flag of Guinea.svg  Guinea  12.9
Flag of Guinea-Bissau.svg  Guinea-Bissau  7.1
Flag of Guyana.svg  Guyana 11.245.5
Flag of Haiti.svg  Haiti  18.3
Flag of Honduras (2008 Olympics).svg  Honduras 9.956.3
Flag of Hong Kong.svg  Hong Kong  203.8
Flag of Hungary.svg  Hungary  34.9
Flag of Iceland.svg  Iceland 46.987.3
Flag of India.svg  India 7.949.8
Flag of Indonesia.svg  Indonesia  39.4
Flag of Iran.svg  Iran 12.9 
Flag of Iraq.svg  Iraq 8.5 
Flag of Ireland.svg  Ireland 30.149.2
Flag of the Isle of Man.svg  Isle of Man (UK)  
Flag of Israel.svg  Israel 13.565.4
Flag of Italy.svg  Italy  86.1
Flag of Jamaica.svg  Jamaica 15.732.1
Flag of Japan.svg  Japan 56.3185.0
Flag of Jordan.svg  Jordan  75.1
Flag of Kazakhstan.svg  Kazakhstan  34.3
Flag of Kenya.svg  Kenya  32.9
Flag of Kiribati.svg  Kiribati   
Flag of North Korea.svg  North Korea   
Flag of South Korea.svg  South Korea 5.7143.3
Flag of Kosovo.svg  Kosovo  39.3
Flag of Kuwait.svg  Kuwait   
Flag of Kyrgyzstan.svg  Kyrgyzstan  21.2
Flag of Laos.svg  Laos   
Flag of Latvia.svg  Latvia  67.4
Flag of Lebanon.svg  Lebanon  111.9
Flag of Lesotho.svg  Lesotho  17.5
Flag of Liberia.svg  Liberia   
Flag of Libya.svg  Libya   
Flag of Liechtenstein.svg  Liechtenstein   
Flag of Lithuania.svg  Lithuania  43.0
Flag of Luxembourg.svg  Luxembourg  100.1
Flag of Macau.svg  Macau  118.1
Flag of North Macedonia.svg  Macedonia, Rep.  47.4
Flag of Madagascar.svg  Madagascar  13.2
Flag of Malawi.svg  Malawi  10.5
Flag of Malaysia.svg  Malaysia 8.9124.0
Flag of Maldives.svg  Maldives  37.3
Flag of Mali.svg  Mali  25.4
Flag of Malta.svg  Malta  87.1
Flag of the Marshall Islands.svg  Marshall Islands   
Flag of Mauritania.svg  Mauritania   
Flag of Mauritius.svg  Mauritius  96.4
Flag of Mexico.svg  Mexico 20.635.0
Flag of Federated States of Micronesia.svg  Micronesia, Fed. Sts.  23.4
Flag of Moldova.svg  Moldova  30.6
Flag of Monaco.svg  Monaco   
Flag of Mongolia.svg  Mongolia  58.7
Flag of Montenegro.svg  Montenegro  51.2
Flag of Morocco.svg  Morocco 12.065.4
Flag of Mozambique.svg  Mozambique  34.5
Flag of Myanmar.svg  Myanmar 6.220.7
Flag of Namibia.svg  Namibia  56.7
Flag of Nauru.svg  Nauru   
Flag of Nepal.svg    Nepal 1.081.0
Flag of the Netherlands.svg  Netherlands 18.4111.2
Flags of New Caledonia.svg  New Caledonia (France)  
Flag of New Zealand.svg  New Zealand 15.5 
Flag of Nicaragua.svg  Nicaragua 15.438.7
Flag of Niger.svg  Niger  13.7
Flag of Nigeria.svg  Nigeria 3.715.7
Flag of the Northern Mariana Islands.svg  Northern Mariana Islands (US)  
Flag of Norway.svg  Norway 32.7145.0
Flag of Oman.svg  Oman  75.6
Flag of Pakistan.svg  Pakistan 11.116.2
Flag of Palau.svg  Palau   
Flag of Palestine.svg  Palestinian territories  42.0
Flag of Panama.svg  Panama 17.891.0
Flag of Papua New Guinea.svg  Papua New Guinea   
Flag of Paraguay.svg  Paraguay 9.154.4
Flag of Peru.svg  Peru 12.536.2
Flag of the Philippines.svg  Philippines 12.044.7
Flag of Poland.svg  Poland  54.8
Flag of Portugal.svg  Portugal 39.5112.2
Flag of Puerto Rico.svg  Puerto Rico (US)  
Flag of Qatar.svg  Qatar  79.4
Flag of Romania.svg  Romania  28.2
Flag of Russia.svg  Russia   
Flag of Rwanda.svg  Rwanda  21.2
Flag of Samoa.svg  Samoa  80.1
Flag of San Marino.svg  San Marino   
Flag of Sao Tome and Principe.svg  São Tomé and Príncipe  26.4
Flag of Saudi Arabia.svg  Saudi Arabia  58.0
Flag of Senegal.svg  Senegal 14.833.1
Flag of Serbia.svg  Serbia  44.1
Flag of the Seychelles.svg  Seychelles  26.9
Flag of Sierra Leone.svg  Sierra Leone 2.85.6
Flag of Singapore.svg  Singapore  132.9
Flag of Sint Maarten.svg  Sint Maarten (Netherlands)  
Flag of Slovakia.svg  Slovakia  57.1
Flag of Slovenia.svg  Slovenia  47.4
Flag of the Solomon Islands.svg  Solomon Islands  39.0
Flag of Somalia.svg  Somalia   
Flag of South Africa.svg  South Africa  144.7
Flag of South Sudan.svg  South Sudan   
Flag of Spain.svg  Spain 31.4111.8
Flag of Sri Lanka.svg  Sri Lanka 7.346.0
Flag of Saint Kitts and Nevis.svg  St. Kitts and Nevis  56.5
Flag of Saint Lucia.svg  St. Lucia  86.8
Flag of France.svg  Collectivity of Saint Martin (France)  
Flag of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.svg  St. Vincent and the Grenadines  50.8
Flag of Sudan.svg  Sudan 8.98.9
Flag of Suriname.svg  Suriname  33.3
Flag of Sweden.svg  Sweden 38.2129.6
Flag of Switzerland.svg   Switzerland 96.0177.7
Flag of Syria.svg  Syria 25.3 
Flag of the Republic of China.svg  Taiwan   
Flag of Tajikistan.svg  Tajikistan  19.2
Flag of Tanzania.svg  Tanzania  14.3
Flag of Thailand.svg  Thailand 10.1147.4
Flag of East Timor.svg  Timor-Leste   
Flag of Togo.svg  Togo  39.3
Flag of Tonga.svg  Tonga  38.1
Flag of Trinidad and Tobago.svg  Trinidad and Tobago 8.541.3
Flag of Tunisia.svg  Tunisia  81.2
Flag of Turkey.svg  Turkey 17.770.3
Flag of Turkmenistan.svg  Turkmenistan   
Flag of the Turks and Caicos Islands.svg  Turks and Caicos Islands (UK)  
Flag of Tuvalu.svg  Tuvalu   
Flag of Uganda.svg  Uganda 6.513.7
Flag of Ukraine.svg  Ukraine  47.3
Flag of the United Arab Emirates.svg  United Arab Emirates  85.9
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom 17.6135.9
Flag of the United States.svg  United States 70.9192.7
Flag of Uruguay.svg  Uruguay 31.028.2
Flag of Uzbekistan.svg  Uzbekistan   
Flag of Vanuatu.svg  Vanuatu  68.5
Flag of Venezuela.svg  Venezuela 14.0 
Flag of Vietnam.svg  Vietnam  123.8
Flag of the United States Virgin Islands.svg  US Virgin Islands (US)  
Flag of Yemen.svg  Yemen   
Flag of Zambia.svg  Zambia  13.0
Flag of Zimbabwe.svg  Zimbabwe   

See also

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  1. "Consumer Debt Definition". Investopedia. Retrieved August 24, 2011.
  2. "Alternatives to Filing for Bankruptcy". Retrieved 2016-07-29.
  3. US Federal Reserve. "Household Debt Service and Financial Obligations Ratios". Household Debt Service and Financial Obligations Ratios. Retrieved December 4, 2012.