Oxfam says 1% of population own half of world’s wealth

International report reveals that 62 richest own same as poorest 50% of population

The world's 62 wealthiest individuals now own the same as the poorest half of the global population, according to a new report on wealth inequality published on the eve of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

The Oxfam International report found that the wealth of the poorer half of the world's population has dropped by 41 per cent, to €1.6 trillion, since 2010.

This figure is equivalent to the wealth held by the 62 wealthiest individuals in the world, a group whose cumulative wealth has increased by $500 billion in the same period.

<b>Wealthy few</b><br>Number of billionaires who own same wealth as half the world</br>

Oxfam estimates that the richest 1 per cent of the world’s 7.3 billion people now own as much as the rest of the world put together. “The gap between rich and poor is reaching new extremes,” the report states. “Far from trickling down, income and wealth are instead being sucked upwards at an alarming rate.”


In particular, it highlights the role that “an ever more elaborate system of tax havens” is playing in the deepening divide, calling for a “global approach to end the era of tax havens”.

Global leaders, including Taoiseach Enda Kenny, descend on the Alpine resort in Switzerland this week for the 46th World Economic Forum.

More than 40 heads of state will rub shoulders with some 2,500 senior leaders from the business world.

Inequality for election

Speaking ahead of the event, which opens tomorrow night, Oxfam Ireland’s

Jim Clarken

urged candidates in the forthcoming Irish general election to prioritise inequality issues.

“Instead of an economy that works for the prosperity of all, for future generations, and for the planet, we have instead created a global economy for the 1 per cent,” Mr Clarken said.

“Far from trickling down, income and wealth are instead being sucked upwards at an alarming rate.

“The current system did not come about by accident,” he added. “It is the result of deliberate policy choices.”

Founded in 1971, the World Economic Forum has expanded into one of the world’s largest gatherings of the business and political community.

Among the senior figures from the world of business and politics attending this year include IMF managing director Christine Lagarde, US vice president Joe Biden, Google chief executive Eric Schmidt, and a clutch of European Central Bank governors.

A coterie of A-list names from the arts and media world will also be in attendance.

U2 frontman and founder of the One foundation, Bono, will speak on the subject of Africa's future later in the week.

Film stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kevin Spacey will also attend.

This year’s forum is expected to be overshadowed by concern over the economic slowdown in China, the continuing global threat from terrorism, and the refugee crisis.

Suzanne Lynch

Suzanne Lynch

Suzanne Lynch, a former Irish Times journalist, was Washington correspondent and, before that, Europe correspondent