If Greece were to repay its sovereign debt today, each Greek would have to contribute 39,700 euros (47,869 U.S. dollars), according to the World Economic Forum.
A country’s debt is measured as percentage of its gross domestic product (GDP). Based on figures by the Organization for Economic Development and Co-operation (OECD), in 2015, the average level of gross public debt in the OECD countries reached 112% of GDP. That’s compared to 73% in 2007, before the financial crisis.
As percentage of GDP, Japan is the most indebted country, its debt reaching 221.8% of GDP in 2015, according to the OECD Government at a Glance report.
However, another way to think about government debt is in per capita terms. For example, if the Japanese wanted to pay off their national debt, they would owe 75,300 euros each.
Regarding per capita debt among OECD countries, Ireland, the U.S. and Italy are next, with 52,200, 51,300 and 48,900 euros each respectively.
Austria, France and Greece all have per capita debts that their citizens would have to find about 40,000 euros each (41,800, 41,600 and 39,700 each respectively).
However, although Greece’s debt/GDP ratio is significantly lower than Japan’s, the consequences have been much more severe in Greece, simply because the debt is owed to foreign, rather than domestic creditors.