Government debt and corporate leverage: international evidence

Irem Demirci, Jennifer Huang, Clemens Sialm

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52 Citations (Scopus)
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We empirically investigate the impact of government debt on corporate financing decisions in an international setting. We show a negative relation between government debt and corporate leverage using data on 40 countries between 1990–2014. This negative relation is stronger for government debt that is financed domestically, for firms that are larger and more profitable, and in countries with more developed equity markets. To address potential endogeneity concerns, we use an instrumental variable approach based on military spending and a quasi-natural experiment based on the introduction of the Euro currency. Our findings suggest that government debt crowds out corporate debt.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)337-356
JournalJournal of Financial Economics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2019


  • Capital structure
  • Crowding out
  • Government debt


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