19 January 2015
Last updated at 08:12
The world’s richest 1% of people will continue to become wealthier, says Oxfam
The wealthiest 1% will soon own more than the rest of the world’s population, according to a study by anti-poverty charity Oxfam.
The charity’s research shows that the share of the world’s wealth owned by the richest 1% increased from 44% in 2009 to 48% last year.
On current trends, Oxfam says it expects the wealthiest 1% to own more than 50% of the world’s wealth by 2016.
The research coincides with the start of the World Economic Forum in Davos.
The annual gathering attracts top political and business leaders from around the world.
Oxfam’s executive director Winnie Byanyima, who will co-chair the Davos event, said she would use the charity’s high-profile role at the gathering to demand urgent action to narrow the gap between rich and poor.
In a statement ahead of the gathering, Ms Byanyima said the scale of global inequality was “simply staggering”.
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owned by richest 1% in 2014
owned by richest 1% by 2020
$1.9tn wealth of 80 top billionaires – equal to bottom 50% of rest of world
$600bn increase in wealth for 80 top billionaires in 4 years – or 50% rise
$750bn drop in wealth for the poorest 50% of the world in 4 years
“It is time our leaders took on the powerful vested interests that stand in the way of a fairer and more prosperous world.
“Business as usual for the elite isn’t a cost-free option – failure to tackle inequality will set the fight against poverty back decades. The poor are hurt twice by rising inequality – they get a smaller share of the economic pie and because extreme inequality hurts growth, there is less pie to be shared around,” she added.
Rich getting richer
The charity is calling on governments to adopt a seven-point plan to tackle inequality, including a clampdown on tax evasion by companies and the move towards a living wage for all workers.
Oxfam made headlines at Davos last year with the revelation that the 85 richest people on the planet have the same wealth as the poorest 50% (3.5 billion people).
It said that that comparison had now become even more stark, with the 80 richest people having the same wealth as the poorest 50%.
The charity said the research, published on Monday, showed that 52% of global wealth not owned by the richest 1% is owned by those in the richest 20%.
The remaining population accounts for just 5.5% of global wealth, and their average wealth was $3,851 (£2,544) per adult in 2014, Oxfam found.
That compares with an average wealth of $2.7m per adult for the elite 1%.
The study comes just a day before US President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, in which he is expected to call for tax increases on the wealthy to help the middle class.
In October, a report from banking giant Credit Suisse also said that the richest 1% of people own nearly half of the world’s wealth.
Increase in wealth of richest 10 billionaires (ranked 2013)
Wealth in 2013 ($bn)
Wealth in 2014 ($bn)
Source: Oxfam, Forbes
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