Richest 1% will own more than the rest of the world by 2016

Winnie Byanyima

The explosion in inequality is holding back the fight against global poverty according to a new Oxfam report, Wealth: Having it all and wanting more, the combined wealth of the richest 1 per cent will overtake that of the other 99 per cent of humanity next year unless the current trend of rising inequality is checked. The report was released today ahead of the annual World Economic Forum meeting in Davos.

January 19, 2015

According to a new Oxfam report, Wealth: Having it all and wanting more, the combined wealth of the richest 1 per cent will overtake that of the other 99 per cent of humanity next year unless the current trend of rising inequality is checked. The report was released today ahead of the annual World Economic Forum meeting in Davos.

Oxfam International, whose executive director Winnie Byanyima will co-chair the Davos event, warned that the explosion in inequality is holding back the fight against global poverty at a time when 1 in 9 people do not have enough to eat and more than a billion people still live on less than $1.25 a day.

During the Davos meeting, Byanyima will call for urgent action to stem this rising tide of inequality. It’s time for governments to act on viable policy solutions.

Canada has led in many of these solutions and can redouble its efforts at home and abroad to support universal access to public health and education; move towards a living wage for all workers; fight for greater tax fairness; close international tax loopholes; ensure adequate safety-nets for the poorest; promote women’s economic equality and women’s rights; and agree on a global goal to tackle inequality.

The Oxfam report shows that the richest 1 per cent have seen their share of global wealth increase from 44 per cent in 2009 to 48 per cent in 2014. At this rate it will rise again to more than 50 per cent in 2016. Members of this global elite had an average wealth of $2.7m per adult in 2014.

Of the remaining 52 per cent of global wealth, almost all (46 per cent) is owned by the rest of the richest fifth of the world’s population. The other 80 per cent share just 5.5 per cent and had an average wealth of $3,851 per adult – that’s 1/700th of the average wealth of the 1 per cent.

Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of Oxfam International, said: “Do we really want to live in a world where the one 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.”
 
Oxfam Canada’s Executive Director, Julie Delahanty added: “Extreme inequality is bad for everyone. Countries that are more unequal have higher crime rates, particularly violent crime, and more social instability, including mental illness, incarceration and addiction. Extreme inequality is bad for growth, for democracy, for women, for our health and for the environment. Most importantly, the rapid increase in inequality is standing in the way of eliminating poverty.”

Oxfam made headlines at Davos last year with the revelation that the 85 richest people on the planet have the same wealth as the poorest 50 per cent (3.5 billion people). Today it had dropped again to 80 people owning the world’s wealth – a dramatic fall from 388 people in 2010. And those richest 80 doubled their money between 2009-14.

Today’s research paper, which follows the October launch of Oxfam’s global Even It Up campaign, shines a light on the way extreme wealth is kept for the wealthy and how elite groups mobilize their vast resources to ensure global rules favour their interests.

For more information contact:
Melanie Gallant
Media Relations
melanie.gallant@oxfam.ca

Notes to editors:

Wealth: Having it all and wanting more is available at: //www.oxfam.ca/our-work/publications/wealth-having-it-all-and-wanting-more

Wealth of 1%, 50%, 80% and 99% is taken from Credit Suisse Global Wealth Datebook (2013 and 2014) https://www.credit-suisse.com/uk/en/news-and-expertise/research/credit-suisse-research-institute/publications.html The projection of 1 per cent wealth for 2016 is calculated by Oxfam based on that data.

The wealth of the richest 80 was calculated using Forbes’ billionaires list http://www.forbes.com The annual data is taken from list published in March 2014.

Credit Suisse made changes to its methodology between 2013 and 2014. Using this new methodology, last year’s ‘85’ would have been ‘90’. That means that the number of billionaires who have the same wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion has fallen from 90 to 80 in the last 12 months.

Oxfam’s Even It Up: Time to End Extreme Inequality report can be found at //www.oxfam.ca/our-work/publications/even-it