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One percent of the world's population will soon own more than the rest combined

19 January 2015

If the current trend of widening gaps is not broken, the richest one per cent of the world's population will own more than the remaining 99 per cent combined by next year.

Later this week, the World Economic Forum will begin in Davos. Oxfam International CEO Winnie Byanyima, who is chairing the meeting, describes the development as an obstacle in the fight against global poverty. This is in a world where 1 in 9 people do not have enough to eat and over a billion people still live on less than $1.25 a day.

According to the Oxfam report Wealth: Having it all and wanting more published today, the richest 1% of the world's population have seen their wealth grow from 44% of the total pie in 2009 to 48% in 2014. At the current rate of growth, their combined assets will exceed 50% already next year. Of the remaining 52% of global assets, 46% are owned by the richest fifth, meaning that the remaining 80% share the remaining 5.5% of the world's assets.

"Do we really want to live in a world where one percent of the world's population owns more than the rest combined? Despite staggering levels of extreme inequality, the gap between the very richest and the rest continues to grow."

Winnie Byanyima, CEO of Oxfam International

"Over the past 12 months, several world leaders, including President Obama and Christine Lagarde, have addressed the issue but have failed to deliver. It is now time for our leaders to challenge the powerful vested interests that stand in the way of a fairer and more prosperous world. Failure to address extreme inequality also risks setting back the fight against poverty by several decades. The poor are doubly disadvantaged by widening gaps, both by having their share of the economic pie reduced and by having the overall pie reduced as extreme inequality inhibits economic growth."

Winnie Byanyima, CEO of Oxfam International

Time to act
In light of this, Oxfam is calling on governments to:
- Crack down on tax evasion
- Invest in basic public services, such as education and health care, available to all
- Shift the tax burden from labor and consumption to capital and wealth
- Introduce minimum wages
- Promote economic policies that make women fair
- Guarantee safety nets for the poorest
- Set global targets to tackle extreme inequality in the world

"Not just a question of morality"
Lady Lynn Fore de Rothschild, CEO of EL Rothschild and President of the Inclusive Capitalism Association, today called on the business leaders gathering in Davos to take responsibility in the fight against extreme inequality.

"Oxfam's report is just the latest in a series of evidence that inequality in the world has reached shocking proportions. The global leaders of modern capitalism must help transform the system and make it more inclusive, fair and sustainable. Extreme inequality is not only a moral issue, it also stifles economic growth and thus the private sector. All those gathered in Davos, who share the vision of a stable and prosperous world, must take these issues seriously."

Lady Lynn Fore de Rothschild, CEO EL Rothschild, Chair of Inclusive Capitalism

Oxfam made headlines in Davos last year with the revelation that the world's 85 richest individuals own as much as the poorest half of the world's population combined. The figure is now 80 - a dramatic drop from 388 individuals in 2010. The wealth of the 80 richest individuals has also doubled since 2009.