The rich have become wealthier this year, amassing a cumulative wealth of a whopping $1.76 trillion. They’ve also become more elite—the super-rich club now has a cosy 62 rather than the crowded 388 it had in 2011.
This isn’t because someone was kicked out. It’s because the wealthiest people in the world have gathered so much money that now just 62 of them own as much wealth as 3.6 billion people, states a report by UK-based charity Oxfam.
On the other end of the spectrum, the wealth of the poorest half of the world’s population—3.6 billion people—has fallen by a trillion dollars since 2010. This 41 per cent drop has occurred despite the global population increasing by around 400 million people during that period.
The situation is no better in India, where the richest 1 per cent own 53 per cent of the nation’s wealth. If we expand to the wealthiest 10 per cent, they own a massive 76 per cent of India’s wealth, according to a 2015 report by Credit Suisse.
The Oxfam report said, “it is no longer good enough for the richest to pretend that their wealth benefits the rest of us when the facts show that the recent explosion in the wealth of the super-rich has come at the expense of the poorest.”
One of the major factors cited by Oxfam for the widening gap between the rich and the poor is the assistance from tax havens that rich corporations enjoy. These conglomerates have stashed away $7.6 trillion in such havens, which is depriving governments all over the world of $190 billion in tax revenues every year. Taxes that regular people like you and I pay.
“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,” Oxfam International’s executive director, Winnie Byanima, said in a statement accompanying the report.
As more wealth is being concentrated in the hands of a few super rich and the poor get poorer. Oxfam is calling on world leaders meeting for the World Economic Forum to crack down on tax havens, ensure fair wages and invest in public services.
Oxfam’s chief executive in the UK said, “In a world where 1-in-9 people go to bed hungry every night, we cannot afford to carry on giving the richest an ever-bigger slice of the cake.”
Feature image source: Reuters