A debt crisis is any situation where debt is leading to human rights being denied, or even being put ahead of life itself. In our map of debt crises below we evaluate which countries are in a debt crisis, and which are at risk of one (click on the map for a larger, more detailed, image).
Based on the amount their governments are spending on debt payments which leave the country, the Jubilee Debt Campaign estimates that people in 27 countries are currently living in debt crisis, up from 22 when the figures were last calculated in 2015. This includes:
- Impoverished countries which have been hit by the fall in global commodity prices, including Ghana, Lao PDR, Mongolia and Mozambique;
- Eurozone countries such as Greece, Ireland and Portugal; and
- Countries in the global south which have been in debt crisis for many years, having never qualified for previous debt relief schemes, including Jamaica, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Tunisia.
Debt crises can be caused by debts owed by the government or private sector (companies and households), or both. Jubilee Debt Campaign estimates that 22 countries are at risk of a public or private debt crisis, a further 17 at risk of a public debt crisis, and 40 a private debt crisis. In total this is 79 countries, up from 71 when the figures were last calculated in 2015. The 2015 evaluation concluded that Bhutan, Ghana, Lao PDR, Mongolia and Mozambique were countries at high risk of debt crisis, which have now moved into the ‘in debt crisis’ category.
Countries at risk of a private sector debt crisis include Australia, the UK and US, and those at risk of a public sector debt crisis include Cameroon, Ethiopia and Zambia.
Read more about how we calculate whether a country is in debt crisis or at risk of one.
Here are case studies you can read about six countries: