British think tank and charity group Oxfam has published its annual inequality report, claiming that levels of inequality have increased across the globe over the past year.
According to Oxfam’s report, published ahead of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the past year has seen the greatest number of new billionaires created than ever before – with a new billionaire joining the ranks almost every two days.
Up to 2,043 billionaires saw their collective wealth increase by $762 billion in 2017, or grow by 13%, every year for the past decade, while the rest of the world’s workforce have seen their collective wealth increase by only 2% annually, the group said.
The most shocking statistic Oxfam highlighted in its 2018 report is that 82% of all wealth created in 2017 was distributed among the world’s richest – the so-called 1% – while the world’s poorest, the bottom 50%, saw none of it.
“New data from Credit Suisse means 42 people now own the same wealth as the bottom 3.7 billion people, and that last year’s figure has been revised from eight to 61 people owning the same as the bottom 50%,” Oxfam said.
“The richest 1% continue to own more wealth than the whole of the rest of humanity.”
The same is true in South Africa, the group said, highlighting that the top 10% of South African society receives half of all wage income, while the bottom 50% of the workforce receives just 12% of all wages.
Oxfam said that its research suggests that the super-rich aren’t as deserving of their massive gains as they would have you believe.
“There is growing evidence that the current levels of extreme inequality far exceed what can be justified by talent, effort and risk-taking. Instead they are more often the product of inheritance, monopoly or crony connections to government,” it said.
“Approximately a third of billionaire wealth is derived from inheritance. Over the next 20 years, 500 of the world’s richest people will hand over $2.4 trillion to their heirs – a sum larger than the GDP of India, a country of 1.3 billion people.”
Further, monopolies and cronyism is also at play, where the former allows businesses to generate obscene levels of wealth by taking advantage of their position as sole providers, which is compounded by cronies who keep that wealth concentrated among a few individuals.
The wealth remains concentrated mostly among men, while the entire situation is exacerbated by crafty tax dodging, as shown in cases like the Panama Papers, Oxfam said.
“In total, we have calculated that approximately two-thirds of billionaire wealth is the product of inheritance, monopoly and cronyism,” it said.