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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Eight men own same wealth as half the world; one in 10 people live on less than $2 a day

Eight men own same wealth as half the world; one in 10 people live on less than $2 a day

A new report has highlighted that the eight richest people in the world own the same wealth as 3.6 billion people who make up the poorer half of the world’s population.

The report was published today by Oxfam ahead of a meeting of political and business leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland this week.

An Economy  for the 99 percent shows that the gap between rich and poor is far greater than had been thought thanks to new and better data on global wealth.

The world could also see its first trillionaire in just 25 years. To spend a trillion euro, someone would have to spend over €1 million a day for 2,738 years.

Since 2015, the richest one percent has owned more wealth than the other 99 percent combined.

The report also details how governments are facilitating big corporations and the super-rich to dodge taxes and use their power to influence politics – which is fuelling the inequality crisis.

"It is obscene for so much wealth to be held in the hands of just eight men – so few they would fit on a golf buggy – when one in nine people on this planet go to bed hungry every night," says Jim Clarken, Oxfam Ireland Chief Executive.

"Public anger is already creating political shockwaves across the globe with inequality cited as a significant factor in the election of Donald Trump in the US and Brexit in the UK.

"People are tired of a system which seems rigged against them, where big business and the super-rich use their money and connections to ensure government policy works for them.

"A fundamental change in the way we manage our economies is required so they benefit everyone, not just a fortunate few. We need a global economy for the 99 percent, not just the one percent."

The report highlights how large-scale tax dodging by corporations and wealthy individuals is contributing to inequality with the poorest losing out, as they are most reliant on the public services this forgone revenue could provide.

Kenya is losing $1.1bn every year in tax exemptions for corporations, nearly twice its budget for health, in a country where women have a one in 40 chance of dying in childbirth.

Oxfam Ireland is also asking that commitments made in the Programme for Government to ‘develop the process of budget and policy proofing as a means of advancing equality’ be put into action.

"Inequality is not inevitable. World leaders can rebalance economies with every budget passed and every rule of law or regulation written or dismantled."

Oxfam’s report lays out a blueprint for a more human global economy, which includes greater cooperation between governments on tax dodging to generate the funds needed to invest in healthcare, education and job creation, and by dismantling the barriers to women’s economic progress such as access to education and the unfair burden of unpaid care work. On current trends it will take 170 years for women to be paid the same as men.

Denise O’Donoughue