Home / Articles / Weekly US Government Data Roundup: July 3, 2023

Which countries own the most US debt?

The US government owes trillions of dollars in debt to foreign entities, including governments, central banks, companies, and individual investors. This debt includes US Treasury bonds and other securities. Foreign ownership of US debt has shifted over time due to global economic events, national monetary policies, and other factors. Here’s an overview of which countries own the most US debt.

Foreign-owed debt was just under $2 trillion in 2000. By 2022, it was approx $7 trillion
  • As of January 2023, foreign countries owned $7.4 trillion in Treasurys, roughly 24% of US debt. Over the past two decades, central banks and other government entities have owned 50% –75% of foreign-owned debt. Independent investors and companies held the rest.
  • For the past 20 years, Japan and China have owned more US Treasurys than any other foreign nation. Japan’s ownership grew from $534 billion in 2000 to just over $1 trillion in 2022, while China’s ownership grew from $101 billion to $855 billion.
  • Rounding out the top five foreign owners of US debt are the United Kingdom ($668 billion), Belgium ($331 billion), and Luxembourg ($318 billion).
  • In 2000, $1.7 trillion — or 18% of total debt — was foreign-owned. This reached $7.7 trillion by 2014, or 34% — the highest percentage in history. However, foreign debt ownership fell early in the pandemic as Saudi Arabia, China, Brazil, and other nations sold securities for short-term capital. Countries resumed buying foreign debt by the end of 2020.
  • US securities are one of the most secure assets in the world, hence why foreign investors buy them up. The American government is committed to repaying debts on time, which can be especially attractive in times of economic uncertainty. In fact, owning US dollars as Treasurys is a part of many foreign monetary policies.

There’s more to explore in this article, including a chart where you can track the foreign holdings of US securities by dozens of countries dating back to 2011. Plus, here’s more on the strength of the US dollar.

Life expectancy by state

American life expectancy has fallen to a low not seen in decades. This new development partly reveals how COVID-19 affected life expectancy nationwide, but projections also differ depending on the state. See the differences between Southern states and Western states in this article

  • US life expectancy fell from 77 to 76.4 years from 2020 to 2021, the lowest since 1996.
Map of the US with color-coded life expectancies by state. In general, states in New England and the West had the longest expectancies.
  • As of 2020, Hawaii had the nation’s highest life expectancy at birth: 80.7 years. Washington followed (79.2 years), then Minnesota (79.1 years). Mississippi had the lowest life expectancy across all states at 71.9 years, followed by West Virginia (72.8 years) and Louisiana (73.1 years). 
  • As more Americans die in a given year, the life expectancy for people born in the same year decreases. Pandemic data from the National Center for Health Statistics reflects that: deaths attributed to COVID-19 were up 18.8% in 2021 over 2020. From 2020 to 2021, age-adjusted death rates also increased by 3.3% for heart disease, 1.7% for cancer, and 12.3% for unintentional injuries.

How does the government define life expectancy? Get the answer here

Data behind the news

One last fact

Firework injuries treated at US emergency rooms peaked at 15,600 in 2020. Last year, there were 10,200.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, emergency rooms treated 10,200 people for firework injuries in 2022. Seventy-three percent of those injuries were in the weeks right before and after July 4. Eleven people died due to fireworks that year.