Just 62 people own as much wealth as the poorer half of the global population, as the widening of the gap between the rich and poor accelerates, says a report by Oxfam. The report shows wealth is becoming further concentrated, with the number of people owning the same amount as the bottom half of humanity falling from 388 to 62 in five years. It says a ‘broken’ economic model underpinned by deregulation, privatization, and financial secrecy has seen the wealth of the richest 62 people jump by 44 per cent in five years to $1.76 trillion. In that time, the wealth of the poorest 3.6 billion people plunged by 41 per cent. “The big winners in our global economy are those at the top. Our economic system is heavily skewed in their favour. Far from trickling down, income and wealth are instead being sucked upwards at an alarming rate,” says the report. However, Oxfam acknowledges that efforts to tackle inequality had seen the halving of the number of people living below the extreme poverty line between 1990 and 2010. “Yet had inequality within countries not grown during that period, an extra 200 million people would have escaped poverty. That could have risen to 700 million had poor people benefited more than the rich from economic growth.” The report says the growing problem of tax avoidance and use of tax havens was a prime example of how the economic system was ‘rigged’ in the rich’s favour and must be stopped. It is also calling for workers to be paid a living wage rather than the minimum, for the end of the gender pay gap, for the influence of the powerful with vested interests to be kept in check, and for the tax burden to be shifted away from labour and consumption and towards wealth and capital.
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