Using the unbalanced data of 3047 commercial banks from 174 countries during 2005-2012, we explore the effect of government ownership on bank risk taking from the global perspective, differentiating developed countries and developing countries, and also considering the effect of financial crisis. The following results are found. In developing countries, the government ownership decreases the risk taking level and enhances the stability of the banks. But the earnings and equity volatility of government owned banks increase after the financial crisis. However, in developed countries, the government ownership increases the bankruptcy risk of banks, although it decreases the earnings and equity volatility. In addition, the effect of government ownership on bank risk taking does not change significantly before and after the financial crisis. The results imply that big discrepancy exists between developing and developed countries in terms of impact of government ownership on bank risk taking. Based on the results, we propose the following suggestions. In developing countries, it is necessary for the government to control commercial banks, but it is also indispensable to balance the stability of macro economy and banking system during financial crisis. In developed countries, it is the best practice to avoid controlling commercial banks and intervening the market behavior of banks.