The richest 1 percent of the world's population has accumulated more wealth than the rest of the global population combined, a study by Oxfam International finds.
Based in part on data from the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Datebook (158 pages, PDF), the report, An Economy for the 1%: How Privilege and Power in the Economy Drive Extreme Inequality and How This Can Be Stopped (44 pages, PDF), found that the sixty-two wealthiest individuals in the world own as much as the poorest half of the global population, or some 3.6 billion people. Since 2010 — when 388 individuals owned the same wealth as the poorest half of the world's population — the combined wealth of the poorest half has fallen by $1 trillion, or 41 percent, while that of the wealthiest sixty-two individuals has increased by $542 billion, or 44 percent, to $1.76 trillion. According to the report, the poorest half of the world's population has received just 1 percent of the total increase in global wealth since 2000, with fully half of the increase going to the richest 1 percent.
Released ahead of the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the report calls for urgent action to address the extreme inequality threatening to undermine the progress made in reducing poverty over the last quarter-century — and more specifically for an end to the increased use of offshore tax havens. Globally, it is estimated that $7.6 trillion in individuals' wealth sits offshore, costing governments a total of $190 billion in lost revenues each year that could be used to pay for health care, education, and efforts to reduce poverty, while the use of tax havens by multinational corporations — including nine out of ten WEF corporate partners — costs developing countries at least $100 billion a year.
"World leaders' concern about the escalating inequality crisis has so far not translated into concrete action — the world has become a much more unequal place and the trend is accelerating," said Oxfam International executive director Winnie Byanyima. "We cannot continue to allow hundreds of millions of people to go hungry while resources that could be used to help them are sucked up by those at the top. I challenge the governments, companies, and elites at Davos to play their part in ending the era of tax havens, which is fueling economic inequality and preventing hundreds of millions of people lifting themselves out of poverty."