Das Dokument ist öffentlich zugänglich im Rahmen des deutschen Urheberrechts.

This paper examines the ownership structure of eurozone public debt and the distribu- tional consequences thereof. Through both a comparative perspective and an explorative case study of Italy, this paper asks two research questions. Firstly, it asks who holds gov- ernment debt in Spain, France, Germany, and Italy. I focus in on Italy to provide, to the authors knowledge, the first highly disaggregated view of the holding structure of public debt. Secondly, for Italy I study distributional effects by examining who benefits from the interest received on government debt. This is accomplished through an investigation of the various stakeholders associated with public debt. Results indicate that most of the public debt is held by private and public financial institutions but rarely directly by households. Both direct and indirect beneficiaries of the interest received on government bonds in Italy turn out to be largely wealthy households, reflecting the unequal ownership of wealth more generally. However, prominent public financial institutions are also significant beneficiaries, which likely ameliorates a possible regressive distributional effect of the public debt hold- ing structure. The paper discusses the results with an eye on inequality and contributes to further study of the political economy of public debt.