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A few dozen people now own as much wealth as half of the world’s population

New research by Oxfam shows women are also disproportionately affected by global inequality.

Image: Shutterstock/Tyler Olson

THE RICHEST 1% of the world’s population now own more than the rest of us combined, according to new research by aid group Oxfam.

“Runaway inequality has created a world where 62 people own as much wealth as the poorest half of the world’s population – a figure that has fallen from 388 just five years ago,” the anti-poverty agency said in a study published today.

The report, entitled “An Economy for the 1%”, found that the wealth of the poorest half has dropped by 41%, to €1.6 trillion, since 2010, despite an increase in the global population by around 400 million people during that period.

The study also states that women are disproportionately affected by the global inequality.

“One of the other key trends behind rising inequality set out in Oxfam International’s report is the falling share of national income going to workers in almost all developed and most developing countries… The majority of low paid workers around the world are women.”

Although world leaders have increasingly talked about the need to tackle inequality “the gap between the richest and the rest has widened dramatically in the past 12 months”, Oxfam said.

While the number of people living in extreme poverty halved between 1990 and 2010, the average annual income of the poorest 10% has risen by less than €2.75-a-year in the past quarter of a century, a increase in individuals’ income of less than one cent a year, the report said.

‘Few dozen super-rich people’ 

Oxfam International Executive Director Winnie Byanima said: “It is simply unacceptable that the poorest half of the world’s population owns no more than a few dozen super-rich people who could fit onto one bus.”

World leaders’ concerns about the escalating inequality crisis have “so far not translated into concrete action – the world has become a much more unequal place and the trend is accelerating”, she warned.

As a priority, Oxfam is calling for an end to the era of tax havens which has seen the increasing use of offshore centres to avoid paying taxes.

“This has denied governments valuable resources needed to tackle poverty and inequality,” the report said.

As much as 30% of all African financial wealth is estimated to be held offshore, it added, costing an estimated €13 billion in lost tax revenues every year.

Getting hold of the proper level of taxes will be “vital” if world leaders are to meet their goal, set last September, of eliminating extreme poverty by 2030.

Byanima challenged those attending the Davos meeting “to play their part in ending the era of tax havens, which is fuelling economic inequality and preventing hundreds of millions of people lifting themselves out of poverty”.

Of the 62 people said to hold as much wealth as the poorest 50%, Oxfam said that 53 are men and just nine are female, highlighting that women are ill-represented even at the highest levels.

The NGO said it had calculated the wealth of the richest 62 people using Forbes’ billionaires list.

© – AFP 2016

Read: In Hong Kong, poor people are living and dying in 24-hour McDonald’s

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