The world’s 26 richest people own as much as the poorest 50%: Oxfam report.
The concentration of the world’s wealth has been highlighted by a report showing that the 26 richest billionaires on the planet own as many assets as the 3.8 billion people who make up the poorest half of the population.
In an annual report published to mark the start of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, the development charity Oxfam said 2018 had been a year in which the rich had grown richer and the poor poorer.
It said the gap was holding back the fight against poverty, adding that a wealth tax on the 1% would raise an estimated $418bn per year – enough to educate every child not in school and provide healthcare that would prevent 3 million deaths.
Oxfam said the wealth of some 2,200 billionaires around the world had increased by $900bn in 2018 – or $2.5bn a day. The 12% increase contrasted with a fall of 11% in the wealth of the poorest half of the world’s population.
The report also found that in the decade since the global financial crisis, the number of billionaires in the world had nearly doubled.
The danger of inequality
Oxfam’s director of campaigns and policy, Matthew Spencer, said: “The massive fall in the number of people living in extreme poverty is one of the greatest achievements of the past quarter of a century but rising inequality is jeopardizing further progress.”
The report said many governments were exacerbating inequality by failing to invest in public services. It noted that about 10,000 people per day die for lack of healthcare and there were 262 million children not in school, often because their parents were unable to afford fees, uniforms, or textbooks.
Oxfam said that in addition to tackling inequality at home, developed countries currently failing to meet their overseas aid commitments could raise the missing billions needed to tackle poverty in the poorest countries by increasing taxes on extreme wealth.
The methodology for assessing the wealth gap was based on global wealth distribution data provided by the Credit Suisse global wealth data book, covering June 2017 to June 2018.
Billionaire wealth was calculated using the annual Forbes billionaires list published in March 2018.
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The situation in 2018
Also, during the same year, 42 individuals owned as much wealth as the world’s poorest 3.7 billion people.