Hours before the World Economic Forum meets at Davos, the charity Oxfam has reported that inequality has created a world where 62 people own as much as the poorest half of the world’s population.
The number of the ultra-wealthy, however, has fallen dramatically from 388 in 2010 and 80 in 2014.
“An economy for the 1%, shows that the wealth of the poorest half of the world’s population – that’s 3.6 billion people – has fallen by a trillion dollars since 2010. This 41% drop has occurred despite the global population increasing by around 400 million people during that period,” Oxfam said in a report on Monday.
The report added: “Meanwhile the wealth of the richest 62 has increased by more than half a trillion dollars to $1.76 trillion. Just nine of the ‘62’ are women.”
Oxfam said it is calling for urgent action to tackle the inequality crisis and reverse the dramatic fall in wealth of the poorest half of the world. It urged world leaders to adopt a three-pronged approach – cracking down on tax dodging, increased investment in public services and action to boost the income of the lowest paid.
As a priority, it called for an end to the era of tax havens which has seen increasing use of offshore centres by rich individuals and companies to avoid paying their fair share to society. This has denied governments valuable resources needed to tackle poverty and inequality.
Oxfam GB chief executive Mark Goldring said: “It is simply unacceptable that the poorest half of the world population owns no more than a small group of the global super-rich – so few, you could fit them all on a single coach.
“World leaders’ concern about the escalating inequality crisis has so far not translated into concrete action to ensure that those at the bottom get their fair share of economic growth. In a world where one in nine people go to bed hungry every night we cannot afford to carry on giving the richest an ever bigger slice of the cake.”
Goldring said the era of tax havens needs to end as this has allowed “rich individuals and multinational companies to avoid their responsibilities to society by hiding ever increasing amounts of money offshore”.
Growing global rich-poor divide
The number of people whose wealth is equal to that of the poorest half of the world’s population since 2010: