Who Owns the U.S. National Debt?
Public debt and intragovernmental holdings

By Kimberly Amadeo

Updated on October 4, 2022
Reviewed by Robert C. Kelly
Fact checked by Lars Peterson

The Bottom Line

The U.S. national debt is the sum of public debt that is held by other countries, the Federal Reserve, mutual funds, and other entities and individuals, as well as intragovernmental holdings held by Social Security, Military Retirement Fund, Medicare, and other retirement funds.

Many people believe that much of the U.S. national debt is owed to foreign countries like China and Japan, but the truth is that most of it is owed to Social Security and pension funds right here in the U.S. This means that U.S. citizens own most of the national debt...