Posts Tagged ‘globe’


Special mention

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All kinds of folks have been sending me links to the latest Oxfam study of world wealth inequality. And for good reason: it shows that the current global distribution of wealth, which is grotesquely unequal, is headed in the direction of becoming even more unequal.

And why is it we want to keep in place an economic system that generates such obscene levels of inequality?

Or as Winnie Byanyima, Oxfam’s executive director, put it:

“”Do we really want to live in a world where the one per cent own more than the rest of us combined? The scale of global inequality is quite simply staggering and despite the issues shooting up the global agenda, the gap between the richest and the rest is widening fast.”

Just to get the numbers straight:*

  • In 2014, the richest 1 percent of people in the world owned 48 percent of global wealth, leaving just 52 percent to be divided up among the other 99 percent of adults on the planet.
  • Almost all of that 52 percent is owned by those included in the richest 20 percent, leaving just 5.5 percent for the remaining 80 percent of people in the world.
  • If this trend continues of an increasing wealth share to the richest, the top 1 percent will have more wealth than the remaining 99 percent of people in just two years, with the wealth share of the top 1 percent exceeding 50 percent by 2016.
  • The very richest of the top 1 percent, the billionaires on the Forbes list, have seen their wealth accumulate even faster over this period. In 2010, the richest 80 people in the world had a net wealth of $1.3 trillion. By 2014, the 80 people who top the Forbes rich list had a collective wealth of $1.9 trillion—an increase of $600 billion in just 4 years, or 50 percent in nominal terms. Meanwhile, between 2002 and 2010, the total wealth of the poorest half of the world in current U.S. dollars had been increasing more or less at the same rate as that of billionaires; however, since 2010, it has been decreasing.
  • The wealth of these 80 individuals is now the same as that owned by the bottom 50 percent of the global population, such that 3.5 billion people have between them the same amount of wealth as that of these extremely wealthy 80 people.
  • And, just to top it off, as the wealth of everyone else has not been increasing at the same rate as that for the top 80, the share of total wealth owned by this group has increased and the gap between the very rich and everyone else has also been increasing. As a result, the number of billionaires who have the same amount of wealth as that of the bottom half of the planet has declined rapidly over the past five years. In 2010, it took 388 billionaires to equal the wealth of the bottom half of the world’s population; by 2014, the figure had fallen to just 80 billionaires.

Had enough?


*To its credit, Oxfam has made available (as an Excel file) all its sources, data, and calculations.