62 people own the same as half the world, reveals Oxfam Davos report

The Oxfam report An Economy for the 1%, shows that the wealth of the poorest half of the world’s population has fallen by a trillion dollars since 2010, a drop of
41 percent. This has occurred despite the global population increasing by around 400 million people during that period.

Meanwhile, the wealth of the
richest 62 has increased by more than half a trillion dollars to $1.76tr. The report also shows how women are disproportionately affected by inequality of the current ‘62’, 53 are men and just
nine are women.

Although world leaders have increasingly talked about the need to tackle inequality, and in September agreed a
global goal to reduce it, the gap between the richest and the rest has widened
dramatically in the past 12 months.

Oxfam’s prediction, made ahead of last year’s Davos, that the 1% would soon own more than the rest of us, actually came true in 2015 – a year earlier than
expected. Oxfam is calling for urgent action to tackle the extreme inequality crisis whic threatens to undermine the progress
made in tackling poverty during the last quarter of a century. As a priority, it is calling for an end to the era of tax havens which has seen the increasing
use of offshore centers by rich
individuals and companies to avoid
paying their fair share to society. This
has denied governments valuable
resources needed to tackle poverty and
Winnie Byanyima, Oxfam International
Executive Director, who will again attend
Davos having co-chaired last year’s
event, said: “It is simply unacceptable
that the poorest half of the world’s
population owns no more than a few
dozen super-rich people who could fit
onto one bus.
“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. 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
fuelling economic inequality and
preventing hundreds of millions of people
lifting themselves out of poverty.
Multinational companies and wealthy
elites are playing by different rules to
everyone else, refusing to pay the taxes
that society needs to function. The fact
that 188 of 201 leading companies have
a presence in at least one tax haven
shows it is time to act.”
In 2015 G20 governments agreed steps
to curb tax dodging by multinationals
through the BEPS agreement, however
these measures will do little for the
poorest countries and largely ignore the
problems posed by tax havens.
Globally, it is estimated that a total of
$7.6tr of individuals’ wealth sits offshore.
If tax were paid on the income that this
wealth generates, an extra $190 billion
would be available to governments every
As much as 30 percent of all African
financial wealth is estimated to be held
offshore, costing an estimated $14 billion
in lost tax revenues every year. This is
enough money to pay for healthcare for
mothers and children in Africa that could
save 4 million children’s lives a year, and
employ enough teachers to get every
African child into school.
Nine out of ten WEF corporate partners
have a presence in at least one tax
haven and it is estimated that tax
dodging by multinational corporations
costs developing countries at least $100
billion every year. Corporate investment
in tax havens almost quadrupled between
2000 and 2014.
Allowing governments to collect the
taxes they are owed from companies and
rich individuals will be vital if world
leaders are to meet their new goal, set
last September, to eliminate extreme
poverty by 2030.
Although the number of people living in
extreme poverty halved between 1990
and 2010, the average annual income of
the poorest 10 percent has risen by less
than $3-a-year in the past quarter of a
century. That equates to an increase in
individuals’ daily income of less than a
single cent a year.
Had inequality within countries not grown
between 1990 and 2010, an extra 200
million people would have escaped
One of the other key trends behind rising
inequality set out in Oxfam’s report is the
falling share of national income going to
workers in almost all developed and most
developing countries and a widening gap
between pay at the top and the bottom
of the income scale. The majority of low
paid workers around the world are
By contrast, the already wealthy have
benefited from a rate of return on capital
via interest payments, dividends, etc,
that has been consistently higher than
the rate of economic growth. This
advantage has been compounded by the
use of tax havens which are perhaps the
most glaring example set out in the
Oxfam report of how the rules of the
economic game have been rewritten in a
manner that has supercharged the ability
of the rich and powerful to entrench their
Oxfam is calling for action against tax
havens to be part of a three-pronged
attack on inequality. Action to recover
the missing billions lost to tax havens
needs to be accompanied by a
commitment on the part of governments
to invest in healthcare, schools and other
vital public services that make such a big
difference to the lives of the poorest
Governments should also take action to
ensure that work pays for those at the
bottom as well as for those at the top –
including moving minimum wage rates
towards a living wage and tackling the
pay gap between men and women.
Byanyima added: “The richest can no
longer pretend their wealth benefits
everyone – their extreme wealth in fact
shows an ailing global economy. The
recent explosion in the wealth of the
super-rich has come at the expense of
the majority and particularly the poorest people.”
In addition to its inequality campaign, Oxfam will be attending Davos to press world and business leaders to tackle climate change and act to resolve humanitarian crises including that in Syria.


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