19 Jan 2015

Are the super rich getting even richer?

The world’s richest 1 per cent will own more than the other 99 per cent by next year, a charity warns.

The charity has highlighted growing inequality ahead of the World Economic Forum in Davos this week.

An Oxfam research paper suggests the wealthiest 1 per cent have seen their share of global assets rise from 44 per cent in 2009 to 48 per cent last year – with an average worth of £1.8m each. The figure is on track to exceed 50 per cent this year.

Below the richest fifth, 80 per cent of the world’s population own just 5.5 per cent of wealth – an average of £2,500 each.

‘Global inequality’

The richest 80 individuals in the world had the same wealth as the poorest 50 percent of the entire population, some 3.5 billion people, Oxfam said. This was an even bigger concentration at the top than a year ago, when half the world’s wealth was in the hands of 85 of the ultra rich.

Oxfam International executive director Winnie Byanyima said: “Do we really want to live in a world where the 1 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.

“In the past 12 months we have seen world leaders from President Obama to Christine Lagarde talk more about tackling extreme inequality but we are still waiting for many of them to walk the walk. It is time our leaders took on the powerful vested interests that stand in the way of a fairer and more prosperous world.

“Business as usual for the elite isn’t a cost free option – failure to tackle inequality will set the fight against poverty back decades. The poor are hurt twice by rising inequality – they get a smaller share of the economic pie and because extreme inequality hurts growth, there is less pie to be shared around.”