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Household debt: a cross-country perspective

Chris Hunt

Aggregate debt of the New Zealand household sector increased from 110 percent of household incomes in 2000 to a peak of 175 percent in 2008, and currently stands at 165 percent. The increase was large and historically unprecedented, but not exceptional compared to other countries' experience over the same period. New Zealand is one of a relatively small group of countries where the ratio of debt-to-income has fallen since the 2008/09 global financial crisis. This article reviews the international experience, and discusses some of the explanations for the rise in household debt across countries, together with some specific New Zealand factors.