Explaining Private Debt

  • Lenno Uusküla Bank of Estonia


The paper examines the relationship between more than 30 macroeconomic variables and debt-to-GDP ratios for the household, non-financial corporation and aggregate debt in a panel of European Union countries. The GDP level and the ratio of house prices to income are found to be positively correlated with the debt-to-GDP ratio, whereas the real interest rate, the inflation rate, economic sentiment and the government debt level are negatively correlated with the debt-to-GDP ratio. Low interest rates and the house price-to-income ratio predict growth in the future debt-to-GDP ratio. Moreover, countries that have had a financial crisis have typically gone through a period of deleveraging afterwards.

Author Biography

Lenno Uusküla, Bank of Estonia
Department of Monetary Policy and Research, senior economist