Facts about central government debt

The central government debt is the debt that the government has built up over the years when expenditure has been greater than revenue. The central government debt has fluctuated between approximately SEK 1,100 billion and SEK 1,400 billion over the past ten years.

The goal is to minimise the cost

The Swedish National Debt Office is tasked with raising loans and managing government borrowing according to the rules of the Budget Act and government guidelines.

The goal is to minimise the cost of central government debt in the long term while taking risk into account. The task of the Swedish National Debt Office is to borrow money every day when the government's expenditure is greater than the income (deficit) and pay off the public debt (amortise) when there is a surplus.

What is central government debt?

Central government debt is a measure of a country's financial position. The amount of government debt today is due to the country's economic history, to the existence of wars and financial crises and to the way in which demographic developments have gone.

Central government debt also reflects the trade-offs between different long-term economic policy objectives, such as the distribution of prosperity between generations, socio-economic efficiency and fiscal sustainability. 

How large is the central government debt today?

Central government debt

2020-02-28

1 055 288 177 441 SEK

Government debt as share of GDP

26 %

2018-12-31

How do we measure central government debt?

Central government debt can be measured in several different ways. Which measure is most appropriate depends on the purpose for which it is to be used. Therefore, when making comparisons over time or between countries, it is important to know which statistics are used and what they measure.

What do unconsolidated and consolidated debt mean?

The Swedish National Debt Office measures the central government debt as the state's unconsolidated debt. These include all loans raised by the Swedish National Debt Office on behalf of the government. Some government agencies own government bonds and treasury bills. Such intra-state ownership is not included in the consolidated government debt. The measurement provides an overall picture of the government's financial position and is used in the government's budget bill and in its annual financial statements. The consolidated government debt is calculated by the National Financial Management Authority.

A debt measurement that is often used in international comparisons is the public sector’s consolidated gross debt, also known as the Maastricht debt. This debt is greater than the central government debt because it encompasses the entire public sector, that is to say municipalities, county councils and the pension system. The calculation is based on conditions laid down in the Maastricht Treaty.

Debt in different parts of the public sector
MeasurementIncludedNot included
Unconsolidated central government debt (Swedish National Debt Office) The entire government debt is included, regardless of the owner  
Consolidated central government debt (National Financial Management Authority) Government debt Internal state ownership
The public sector’s consolidated gross debt (Statistics Sweden) The public sector’s entire debt: central and local government debt and the pension system’s debt. Internal ownership

The difference between gross debt and net debt

In order to obtain a fair view of the economic position of a country, we should not only study its debts but also its assets. If the assets are larger than the debts, the country has a positive net worth and if the debts are greater than the assets, it has a net debt.

Statistics on the central government debt

Want to learn more? See statistics on the development and composition of the central government debt.

Statistics on Sweden’s central government debt