In this OECD link we have the US General government debt. The value is close to 120% of GDP.

However, the wikipedia has the US Federal Gov debt at 80%.

Why is there such a difference? What debt is being considered by the OECD, that is not by the wikipedia graph?

Any help would be appreciated


The OECD number includes intragovernmental debt, which is debt not held by the public, while the Wikipedia number does not. One of the largest of these debts (several trillion dollars) is related to Social Security, which is a debt owed by the federal government to the Social Security Trust Fund. A review of the history of this debt and its implications is available from the Social Security Administration.


The difference between these is scope. The OECD data is looking at gross general government debt, whereas the Wikipedia article is stating federal government debt. The difference between the two is the OECD number includes state and local governments in addition to the federal government. Hope this helps, Spookypants

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    $\begingroup$ That's what I thought too however if you read carefully the wikipedia article it states that state and local governments are included in the number ... $\endgroup$ – Alexis L. Jun 22 '16 at 16:31

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