Feel like your middle class job isn’t paying what it should? Feel like you’re getting less and less of the American pie? You’re not alone. From time immemorial, people have complained about how “the rich keep getting richer,” but new data gives the old complain added urgency: by next year, just a handful of upper-class elites will have accumulated more than half of the planet’s wealth.
In an Oxfam report that caused a major media stir when released on Monday, researchers predict that this deepening global inequality is of a different magnitude than anything seen in recent years.
Using data and research from Credit Suisse and Forbes’ annual billionaires list, the charity, which is devoted to fighting poverty, determined that the richest 1% of the human population currently holds 48% of the world’s total wealth.
If present trends continue on their course, Oxfam shows that the most-affluent will have more wealth than the remaining 99% by 2016, The New York Times reported.
Look closer at the numbers and you’ll find that the 80 richest people in the world possess $1.9 trillion, which is equal to the amount shared by the 3.5 billion people at the bottom half of the world’s income scale.
Thirty-five of the planet’s richest 80 are Americans, whose combined wealth is worth $941 billion. Germany and Russia tied in second place, with seven uber-rich individuals each.
Unsurprisingly, the richest were titans in the finance, health care, insurance, retail, technology and oil industries. They paid fortunes to lobbyists to protect or expand their already-existing riches. 70 of those 80 wealthiest people in the world were men. And 11 members had done nothing but inherited their wealth.
“Do we really want to live in a world where the 1 percent own more than the rest of us combined?” Oxfam executive director Winnie Byanyima said in a letter. “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.”
This week, more than 2,500 of the world’s rich and powerful will fly to Switzerland on their private jets to take part in the World Economic Forum. There they will discuss the financial markets and economic trends while dining on the finest food money can buy and sleeping in Davos’ five-star hotels.
Yet Oxfam will be in Davos as well, pushing the rich and powerful to address the rising inequality situation. The organization hopes to motivate political and business leaders to enhance public services, implement living wages, eliminate the gender pay gap and crack down on tax-dodging corporations, Reuters reported.
Until then, the world will be waiting – a world in which more than 1 billion people continue to live on less than $1.25 a day.