World’s richest 26 people wealthier than poorest 50%

Just 26 people now own the same wealth as the 3.8bn people who make up the poorest half of the world, down from 43 in 2017, according to analysis by Oxfam which says the gap between rich and poor is widening and wants governments to do more to even out the distribution via changes in taxation

The charity says the poorest half of the world saw their wealth decline by 11% last year while billionaires’ fortunes rose 12%, or $2.5bn (£1.95bn) a day.

Its report, Public Good or Private Wealth?, is  published as political and business leaders gather in Davos for the World Economic Forum.

The report calls on governments to do more to fund high-quality, universal public services through tackling tax dodging and delivering fairer taxation, including on corporations and the richest individuals’ wealth, which it claims are often under-taxed.

Matthew Spencer, Oxfam director of campaigns and policy, said: ‘The way our economies are organised means wealth is increasingly and unfairly concentrated among a privileged few while millions of people are barely subsisting.

‘It doesn’t have to be this way – there is enough wealth in the world to provide everyone with a fair chance in life. Governments should act to ensure that taxes raised from wealth and businesses paying their fair share are used to fund free, good-quality public services that can save and transform people’s lives.’

Oxfam is warning that unless governments act to reduce inequality, the global goal to end extreme poverty by 2030 will remain out of reach. A recent World Bank report found that the global rate of poverty reduction almost halved between 2013 and 2015 compared to the 25-year average, and the number of people in extreme poverty is rising in sub-Saharan Africa.

Oxfam argues there is growing support for wealth taxes and points out that in 2015, just four cents in every dollar of tax revenue collected globally came from taxes on wealth such as inheritance or property.

If the world’s richest one per cent paid an additional 0.5% tax on their wealth it would raise an estimated $418bn a year, the charity says.

Public Good or Private Wealth? is here.

Report by Pat Sweet

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