How Much Do You Know About State Debt?

Key factors influence how much governments borrow

How Much Do You Know About State Debt?
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No universal guidelines exist for how much debt a state government can afford, but many factors influence states’ borrowing levels. See if you can identify just a few of these factors by answering the questions below.

Note: Debt per person and local-state borrowing divisions reflect 2015 census data, the most recently available source when Pew’s debt interactive was created. Population growth is measured from 2008 to 2017 and revenue volatility from 1998 to 2017; both reflect census data. Centralization uses 2014 data from state comprehensive annual financial reports.

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Data Visualization

A Tool for Better Debt Comparisons

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Data Visualization

A Tool for Better Debt Comparisons

Because no universal guidelines exist for how much debt state governments can afford, when policymakers try to assess how much borrowing to take on for projects such as roads, bridges, and schools, they often compare debt levels in their state to those of others. To make these comparisons, many policymakers evaluate how their state stacks up against geographic neighbors or other states with a common credit rating.