Oxfam reports billionaires gained most new wealth and global poverty increased

Oxfam report reveals that since 2020, for every dollar earned by those in the poorest 90 per cent of humanity, a billionaire has earned 1.7 million.

  • Humanitarian organisation Oxfam published updated data on global inequality to mark the opening of the World Economic Forum in Davos.
  • 63 per cent of new wealth generated in 2020-2021 ended up in the hands of the richest 1 per cent of humanity.
  • Meanwhile, 860 million people live in poverty, a figure that increased for the first time in the past 25 years.

Each year, for the opening of the World Economic Forum (WEF), held in Davos, Switzerland, the humanitarian organisation Oxfam presents some alternative data on the global economy. Not figures on GDP growth or trade, but rather those underpinning the macroscopic inequalities that divide humanity. On the one hand, there are those who accumulate wealth, on the other, the people forced to live on the scraps. The title in 2023 was, fittingly, Survival of the Richest, as the super-rich continued to prosper even during the pandemic, the war in Ukraine, and the energy and food crisis.

Billionaires keep getting richer

In the years 2020 and 2021, marked by the pandemic, new wealth was generated in the world. The problem lies in the fact that the majority of this wealth (63 per cent, to be precise) ended up in the hands of the richest 1 per cent of humanity. This concentration of resources has increased considerably, given that the percentage for the decade between 2012 and 2021 it was 54 per cent. Essentially, in just two years, this club of the super-rich has seen its wealth increase by 26 trillion dollars in real terms. Put another way, starting in 2020, for every dollar earned by someone in the poorest 90 per cent of humanity, there was a billionaire who earned 1.7 million dollars.

Poverty increases for the first time in 25 years

Meanwhile, however, a large portion of humanity is struggling to make it to the end of the month. 1.7 billion people, more than the entire population of China, live in countries where inflation is greater than the average salary increase. In other words, they have seen their purchasing power decrease. For the first time in a quarter of a century, poverty increased throughout the world. Today, it affects 860 million people, 11 per cent of humanity. The situation is so dire that the World Bank has said, in very clear terms, that the first of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to end poverty in all its forms, will not be achieved.

sdg, poverty
The first SDG aims to end all forms of poverty in the world © Jordan Opel/Unsplash

Oxfam’s suggestion: tax the super-rich

If this is the case, then, why not increase taxes for those who can afford them, gaining resources to support those who are most disadvantaged? This is one of the measures for which Oxfam has been fighting for a long time. “A fairer tax system, starting with greater taxation of the wealthiest, is one of the most important tools to fight inequality,” says Gabriela Bucher, executive director of Oxfam International. “A tax of up to 5 per cent on the world’s multi-millionaires and billionaires could raise $1.7 trillion a year, enough to lift 2 billion people out of poverty.”

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