Super rich own half the world’s wealth

An Oxfam report released ahead of the World Economic Forum in Davos has found that 62 of the world’s richest people have the same wealth as 3.6 billion people.

The report, released just prior to the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Switzerland, highlights the ever-widening disparity between the world’s richest and poorest.

Around five years ago, 388 people owned more wealth than half the world’s population. Since then, the wealth of the world’s richest 62 people has increased by around half a trillion dollars, or about 44 per cent, whilst the wealth of the bottom half has decreased by 41 per cent.

“What it’s showing us is that the inequality gap is widening at a much faster pace than what we thought, and the concern is that we are really locking billions of people into a cycle of poverty and there aren’t the mechanisms there to pull them out of that,” said Oxfam Australia chief executive Helen Szoke.

The contentious issue of corporate tax havens, which enables the richest individuals to hide around $7.6 trillion, has been explained as one reason for this disparity.

“About $100 billion annually is lost to poorer nations because corporations put their money into low-tax jurisdictions,” Ms Szoke said. “And once that happens it means that a fair share of tax isn’t being paid to support the social infrastructure that’s necessary to help people lift out of poverty, like education, for example.”

Oxfam points out three key issues that need to be addressed at the WEF:

  • the issue of tax practices and clamp down on corporate tax avoidance
  • using tax money to invest in social infrastructure
  • identifying the need for a living wage, rather than a minimum wage

Ms Szoke hopes that business and government sectors can come together at the WEF in Davos, Switzerland, this week to reach a viable solution for this issue.

How do you feel about this? Are you surprised at how high these figures are? What solutions do you think could help this situation? Do you think the Government is doing enough to curb corporate tax avoidance?


Read the Oxfam report

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