Worldwide, the rich are definitely getting richer. How bad is it? A recent Oxfam report, An Economy for the 1%, highlights just how stark wealth inequality has grown across the globe. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights from the report and learn why the growing gulf between rich and poor is bad for everyone.
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- The wealth of the bottom half of the global population is down 38 percent since 2010, a decrease of about a trillion dollars.
- The world’s population has increased by about 400 million since 2010.
- The richest 62 people in the world have wealth equal to the wealth of the poorer half of the world’s population (more than 3.5 billion people).
- Among the 62 wealthiest people in the world, 53 are men and just 9 are women.
- The wealth of the richest 62 people in the world has increased, since 2010, by more than half a trillion dollars, to $1.76tr.
The rich aren’t only getting richer – they’re getting richer pretty darn quickly. In 2010, 388 people had wealth equal to the bottom half’s wealth. In 2012, it was 159 people. At the end of 2015, it took just 62 people (and their almost 2 trillion dollars) to meet the mark. The wealth of that bottom half has also decreased from almost $3 trillion to about $1.76 trillion since 2010, although the population has increased. As bad as the disparity is, if things continue in this direction, it could get even worse.
“This is terrible,” Oxfam’s Policy Director Gawain Kripke told The Huffington Post. “No one credible will say this is good for the world or good for the economy.”
Winnie Byanyima, Oxfam’s international executive director, finds the current reality “unacceptable” and she’s calling upon global leaders and citizens to take action.
“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,” Byanyima said. “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.”
The report offers several suggestions for moving things in a better direction.
1. First and foremost, Oxfam is calling for an end to tax havens.
Wealthy individuals and companies utilize these offshore centers to avoid paying taxes, and it’s taking far too much money out of the hands of governments, money that could be applied to services.
“Globally, it is estimated that a total of $7.6tr of individuals’ wealth sits offshore,” the press release for this report says. “If tax were paid on the income that this wealth generates, an extra $190 billion would be available to governments every year.”
2. Certain government services should be better funded.
Governments around the globe should invest more in services and programs that benefit their poorest citizens. Programs that make such a huge difference in the lives of people should be better funded, like heath care and education.
3. It’s also important to tackle the pay gap between men and women.
4. Governments should raise minimum wage rates to a living wage.
Minimum wage rates vary by country. Lately some have been calling for a global minimum wage. Governments around the world should consider mandating a living wage for their citizens. It would make a difference in the lives of millions of people.
Be sure to check out the full report from Oxfam for more information.
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