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Fiscal Affairs

Public Finances in Modern History Database

Public Finances in Modern History database documents two-hundred years of the history of budget deficits and government debts, covering 55 countries over the period 1800-2011.

These data were assembled from a wide array of historical sources and analyzed in the IMF Working Paper "A Modern History of Fiscal Prudence and Profligacy" by Paolo Mauro, Rafael Romeu, Ariel Binder and Asad Zaman (2013). The primary balance is the difference between a government's revenues and its non-interest expenditures; it is the most accurate reflection of government fiscal policy decisions. A country with a primary deficit, for example, spends more on roads, schools, defense, than it takes in from taxes and other revenues. We invite you to explore these data through the interactive graphs below and take in a glimpse of the history of today's deficits and debts around the world.

Disclaimer

Use of the data and products from this webpage requires the following citation:
Paolo Mauro, Rafael Romeu, Ariel Binder and Asad Zaman, 2013, "A Modern History of Fiscal Prudence and Profligacy," IMF Working Paper No. 13/5, International Monetary Fund, Washington, DC. We welcome comments on the data to historicalpubfin@imf.org

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