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The richest 1 percent are likely to control more than half of the globe’s total wealth by next year, the charity Oxfam reported in a study released on Monday. The warning about deepening global inequality comes just as the world’s business elite prepare to meet this week at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
The 80 wealthiest people in the world altogether own $1.9 trillion, the report found, nearly the same amount shared by the 3.5 billion people who occupy the bottom half of the world’s income scale. (Last year, it took 85 billionaires to equal that figure.) And the richest 1 percent of the population, who number in the millions, control nearly half of the world’s total wealth, a share that is also increasing.
The type of inequality that currently characterizes the world’s economies is unlike anything seen in recent years, the report explained. “Between 2002 and 2010 the total wealth of the poorest half of the world in current U.S. dollars had been increasing more or less at the same rate as that of billionaires,” it said. “However since 2010, it has been decreasing over that time.”
Winnie Byanyima, the charity’s executive director, noted in a statement that more than a billion people lived on less than $1.25 a day.
“Do we really want to live in a world where the 1 percent own more than the rest of us combined?” Ms. Byanyima said. “The scale of global inequality is quite simply staggering.”
Investors with interests in finance, insurance and health saw the biggest windfalls, Oxfam said. Using data from Forbes magazine’s list of billionaires, it said those listed as having interests in the pharmaceutical and health care industries saw their net worth jump by 47 percent. The charity credited those individuals’ rapidly growing fortunes in part to multimillion-dollar lobbying campaigns to protect and enhance their interests.