62 people own same as half the world

The gap between the richest and the rest has widened dramatically in the past year with 62 people now owning as much wealth as 3.6 billion of the world’s poorest, Oxfam reported - but others disagree.

 

As the world’s financial and political elite gather in Davos for the World Economic Forum, the Oxfam report An Economy for the 1%, shows that although world leaders have increasingly talked about the need to tackle inequality, the rich have continued to become richer while the poor have been left behind.

 

Oxfam Australia’s Chief Executive Dr Helen Szoke said, “Ahead of last year’s Forum Oxfam predicted that the richest 1% would soon own more than the rest of us. Shockingly, this came true in 2015 – a year earlier than we expected.

 Global wealth disrtribution

 

“This extreme inequality crisis threatens to undermine the progress made in tackling poverty in the last quarter of a century. Had inequality within countries not grown between 1990 and 2010, an extra 200 million people would no longer be living in extreme poverty today.

 

The report shows that the wealth of the richest 62 people has risen by 44 per cent in the five years since 2010 –an increase of more than half a trillion USD ($542bn) to 1.76 trillion USD. Meanwhile, the wealth of the 3.6 billion people who make up the poorest half of the global population fell by just over a trillion.

 

“In Australia, new global wealth data shows since 2000, 50% of the total increase in national wealth went to the richest 10 per cent of Australians. During the same period, the poorest 10 % of Australians share of this increased wealth was almost zero”.

 

Oxfam has called for urgent action to make tax fair and tackle the extreme inequality crisis.

 

“The amount held in tax havens worldwide is increasing at an alarming rate. We estimate a four-fold increase in investment in tax havens globally during 2000-2014 – that’s 1.7 times faster than the growth of GDP.”

 

Allowing governments to collect the taxes that companies and rich individuals should be paying will be vital if world leaders are to meet their new goal, set last September, to eliminate extreme poverty by 2030.

 

The use of tax havens is one of the most glaring examples set out in the report, showing how the rules of the economic game have been rewritten to supercharge the ability of the rich and powerful to entrench their wealth. Dr Szoke said action against tax havens must be part of a three-pronged attack on inequality.

 

“Action to recover the missing billions lost to tax havens needs to be accompanied by a commitment by governments to invest in healthcare, schools and other vital public services that make such a big difference to the lives of the poorest people.

 

 

We also need corporations and governments to ensure that people earn a fair, living wage for the work they do and close the pay gap between men and women.

 

“The explosion in the wealth of the super-rich has come at the expense of the majority – and particularly the poorest people,” Dr Szoke said.

 

 

However, the annual Oxfam assertions about global wealth inequity don't come without their critics.

 

 

 

The BBC program "More or Less: Behind the Statistics", presented by Tim Harford explored the Oxfam claims and the dubious statistical analysis it employed. Listen (10 minutes) to how those with high incomes in the USA, but who spend more than they earn have, According to Oxfam, no wealth, amongst other interesting points – http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03gj7h9.

 

 

 

Additionally, the Institute of Economic Affairs in the United Kingdom Head of Public Policy and the Director of The Paragon Initiative Ryan Bourne wrote a critical blog post also pointing out the weaknesses in the Oxfam argument in "Oxfam's global inequality statistics: don't believe the anti-capitalist hype" (http://www.iea.org.uk/blog/oxfams-global-inequality-statistics-dont-believe-the-anti-capitalist-hype).

 

18 January 2016.

However, the annual Oxfam assertions about global wealth inequity don't come without their critics.

 

The BBC program "More or Less: Behind the Statistics", presented by Tim Harford explored the Oxfam claims and the dubious statistical analysis behind the claims. Listen (10 minutes) to how those with high incomes in the USA, but who spend more than they earn have, According to Oxfam, no wealth – http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03gj7h9.

 

Additionally, the Institute of Economic Affairs in the United Kingdom Head of Public Policy and the Director of The Paragon Initiative Ryan Bourne wrote a blog post also pointing out the weaknesses in the Oxfam argument in "Oxfam's global inequality statistics: don't believe the anti-capitalist hype" (http://www.iea.org.uk/blog/oxfams-global-inequality-statistics-dont-believe-the-anti-capitalist-hype)