The vast fortunes made by the world’s richest 100 billionaires is driving up inequality and hindering the world’s ability to tackle poverty, according to Oxfam.
The charity said the accumulation of wealth and income on an unprecedented scale, often at the expense of secure jobs and decent wages for the poorest, undermined the ability of people who survive on aid or low wages to improve their situation and escape poverty.
Oxfam said the world’s poorest could be lifted out of poverty several times over should the richest 100 billionaires give away the money they made last year.
Without pointing a finger at individuals, the charity argued that the $240bn (£150bn) net income amassed in 2012 by the richest 100 billionaires would be enough to make extreme poverty history four times over.
It is rare for charities to attack the wealthy, who are usually regarded as a source of funding. Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are among a group of 40 US billionaires who have pledged much of their wealth to aid projects, but there is little detail about the level of their annual donations. Their actions have also not been matched by Russian, Middle Eastern or Chinese billionaires.
In the report, The Cost of Inequality: How Wealth and Income Extremes Hurt Us All, published before the World Economic Forum in Davos next week, the charity calls on world leaders to curb income extremes and commit to reducing inequality to at least 1990 levels.
The report found that the richest 1% had increased their incomes by 60% in the past 20 years, with the financial crisis accelerating rather than slowing the process.
Choosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor from
The cost of inequality: how wealth and income extremes hurt us all
The world must urgently set goals to tackle extreme inequality and extreme wealth It is now widely accepted that rapidly growing extreme wealth and inequality are harmful to human progress, and that something needs to be done. Already this year, the World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Report rated inequality as one of the top global risks of 2013. The IMF and the Economist agree. Around the world, the Occupy protests demonstrated the increasing public anger and feeling that inequality has gone too far.
In the last decade, the focus has been exclusively on one half of the inequality equation – ending extreme poverty. Inequality and the extreme wealth that contributes to it were seen as either not relevant, or a prerequisite for the growth that would also help the poorest, as the wealth created trickled down to the benefit of everyone.
There has been great progress in the fight against extreme poverty. Hundreds of millions of people have seen their lives improve dramatically – an historically unprecedented achievement of which the world should be proud. But as we look to the next decade, and new development goals we need to define progress, we must demonstrate that we are also tackling inequality- and that means looking at not just the poorest but the richest. Oxfam believes that reducing inequality is a key part of fighting poverty and securing a sustainable future for all. In a world of finite resources, we cannot end poverty unless we reduce inequality rapidly.
That is why we are calling for a new global goal to end extreme wealth by 2025, and reverse the rapid increase in inequality seen in the majority of countries in the last twenty years, taking inequality back to 1990 levels.
Extreme wealth and inequality are reaching levels never before seen and are getting worse
Over the last thirty years inequality has grown dramatically in many countries. In the US the share of national income going to the top 1% has doubled since 1980 from 10 to 20%. For the top 0.01% it has quadrupled to levels never seen before. At a global level, the top 1% (60 million people), and particularly the even more select few in the top 0.01% (600,000 individuals – there are around 1200 billionaires in the world), the last thirty years has been an incredible feeding frenzy. This is not confined to the US, or indeed to rich countries. In the UK inequality is rapidly returning to levels not seen since the time of Charles Dickens. In China the top 10% now take home nearly 60% of the income. Chinese inequality levels are now similar to those in South Africa, which are now the most unequal country on earth and significantly more unequal than at the end of apartheid. Even in many of the poorest countries, inequality has rapidly grown.
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Full report (click on the image)
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