1) This chart was created from historical tables included in the U.S. Federal Government fiscal year 2014 budget and U.S.
Census population estimates and projections. The federal government adjusted its fiscal year one calendar quarter (3 months)
during 1976, creating a 'transition quarter,' which has been neglected in this chart.
2) The chart shows the federal debt - the cummulative amount it spent more than it collected in revenue during each fiscal year from 1940 to 2012, with projections through 2018 - divided by the estimated or projected U.S. resident population.
3) The line with blue circles shows the debt per resident in current dollars, neglecting inflation. Inflation reduces the buying power of the dollar over time.
4) The line with purple triangles shows the debt per resident adjusted for inflation, where the data has been scaled to the constant dollar value during fiscal year 2005. Inflation-adjusted values are also referred to as 'real' values.
5) This debt represents the total money it borrowed from other entities (individuals, businesses, institutions, governments) to pay for its expenses and how much each resident of the U.S. needs to contribute to pay back the loan.
6) From the inflation-adjusted debt per resident data, one can see that the real debt per resident grew dramatically through
1945, then dropped quickly through the end of the 1940s, then dropped more slowly through the mid-1970s. In the early 1980s the debt per resident grew dramatically through the mid-1990s when debt per resident growth slowed and began to shrink around the year 2000. Since 2002, the growth of the debt per resident has continued its dramatic rise, increasing even more dramatically in 2008, and is projected to continue rapid growth through 2018, to $50,000 FY2005 inflation-adjusted dollars per resident. This is nearly 2.5 times the level of real debt per person during 1945.
7) This chart doesn't tell us anything about the absolute size of the U.S. Federal Government debt. See U.S. Federal Debt Over
8) This chart doesn't tell us anything about the debt relative to the size of the economy (Gross Domestic Product; GDP) See
U.S. Federal Debt as a Percent of GDP Over Time.
9) See also U.S. Resident Population Over Time.