62 people now own the same wealth as half the world's population, research finds
World's richest are getting richer while the wealth of the poorest is being spread more thinly
Wealth inequality has grown to the stage where 62 of the world’s richest people own as much as the poorest half of humanity combined, according to a new report.
The research, conducted by the charity Oxfam, found that the wealth of the poorest half of the world’s population – 3.6 billion people – has fallen by 41 per cent, or a trillion US dollars, since 2010.
While this group has become poorer, the wealth of the richest 62 people on the planet has increased by more than half a trillion dollars to $1.76 trillion.
The report, “An Economy for the 1%”, says the gap between the global richest and the global poorest has widened in just the last 12 months.
In 2011 388 people had the same wealth as the poorest half of humanity. In 2011 this fell to 177. The number has continued to fall each year to 80 in 2014 and 62 in 2015.
The research was released days ahead of the annual gathering of the world’s elite in Davos for the World Economic Forum 2016.
Oxfam GB chief executive Mark Goldring said a crackdown on global tax havens was a necessary step towards ending the rampant global inequality.
“It is simply unacceptable that the poorest half of the world population owns no more than a small group of the global super-rich – so few, you could fit them all on a single coach,” he said.
“World leaders’ concern about the escalating inequality crisis has so far not translated into concrete action to ensure that those at the bottom get their fair share of economic growth. In a world where one in nine people go to bed hungry every night we cannot afford to carry on giving the richest an ever bigger slice of the cake.
“We need to end the era of tax havens which has allowed rich individuals and multinational companies to avoid their responsibilities to society by hiding ever increasing amounts of money offshore.
“Tackling the veil of secrecy surrounding the UK’s network of tax havens would be a big step towards ending extreme inequality. Three years after he made his promise to make tax dodgers ‘wake up and smell the coffee’, it is time for David Cameron to deliver.”
In November the Public Accounts Committee of MPs warned that HMRC had made "little or no progress" on measures to reveal the scale of aggressive tax avoidance happening in Britain.
In addition, last year the Office for Budget Responsibility announced that George Osborne’s tax avoidance crackdown had missed its target by hundreds of millions of pounds.
But the report’s authors say the situation could be even worse in the world’s poorest countries. The researchers estimate that as much as 30 per cent of African financial wealth is held offshore, costing the governments of countries in the region $14 billion US dollars each year.
That money, if collected, might otherwise be destined for the world’s poorest.
Last year an investigation by the Independent revealed that the UK was paying millions of pounds to EU-listed tax havens in the form of international aid.
A significant number of tax havens are also British Crown dependencies and have Queen Elizabeth II as their head of state.
The Government says it has made cracking down on tax avoidance a priority. In September HMRC said it had collected £1bn from users of tax avoidance schemes as a result of new rules.
1. Bill Gates
The creator of Microsoft is worth $79.2 billion
2. Carlos Slim Helu
Self-made business man, worth $77.1 billion
3. Warren Buffet
Warren buffet is the world's most successful investor and a businessman. Forbes rates him as being worth $72.7 billion
4. Amancio Ortega
The Spanish business who set up the Zara chain of high-street shops is worth $64.5 billion
5. Larry Ellison
The American entrepreneur has a fortune of $54.3 billion
6. Charles Koch and David Koch
Next on the list is Charles Koch, along with brother David Koch of Koch Industries
8. Christy Walton
The widow of John T. Walton, one of the sons of the founder of Walmart, is worth $41.7 billion
9. Jim Walton
The youngest son of Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart, has a wealth of $40.6 billion
10. Liliane Bettencourt
The French heiress and business woman, who is a shareholder in L'Oreal, has a wealth of $40.1 billion.
The other 52 people richest people, according to Forbes, are:
11. Alice Walton ($39.4 billion)
12. S. Robson Walton ($39.4 billion)
13. Bernard Arnault ($37.2 billion)
14. Michael Bloomeberg ($35.5 billion)
15. Jeff Bezos ($34.8 billion)
16. Mark Zuckerberg ($33.4 billion)
17. Li Ka-shing ($33.3 billion)
18. Sheldon Adelson ($34.4 billion)
19. Larry Page ($29.7 billion)
20. Sergy Brin ($29.2 billion)
21. Gerog Schaeffler ($26.9 billion)
22. Forrest Mars, Jr. ($26.6 billion)
22. Jacqueline Mars ($26.6 billion)
22. John Mars ($26.6 billion)
25. David Thomson ($25.5 billion)
26. Jorge Paulo Lemann ($25 billion)
27. Lee Shau Kee ($24.8 billion)
28. Stefan Persson ($24.5 billion)
29. George Soros ($24.2 billion)
29. Wang Jianlin $24.2 billion)
31. Car Ichan ($23.5 billion)
32. Maria Franca Fissolo ($23.4 billion)
33. Jack Ma ($22.7 billion)
34. Prince Alwaleed Bin Tala Alsaud ($22.6 billion)
35. Steve Ballmer (21.5 billion)
36. Phil Knight ($21.5 billion)
37. Beate Heister & Karl Albrecht Jr. ($21.3 billion)
38. Li Hejun ($21.1 billion)
39. Mukesh Ambani (21 billion)
40. Leonardo Del Vecchio ($20.4 billion)
41. Len Blavatnik ($20.2 billion)
41. Tadashi Yanai ($20.2 billion)
43. Charles Ergen ($20.1 billion)
44. Dilip shanghvi ($20 billion)
45. Laurene Powell Jobs ($19.5 billion)
46. Dieter Schwarz ($19.4 billion)
47. Michael Dell ($19.2 billion)
48. Azim Premji ($19.1 billion)
49. Theo Albrecht, Jr. ($19 billion)
50. Michael Otto ($18.1 billion)
51. Paul Allen ($17.5 billion)
52. Jospeh Safra ($17.3 billion)
53. Ann Cox Chambers ($17 billion)
54. Susanne Klatten ($16.8 billion)
55. Pallonji Mistry ($16. 3 billion)
56. Ma Huateng ($16.1 billion)
57. Patrick Drahi ($16 billion)
58. Thomas & Raymond Kwok ($15.9 billion)
59. Stefan Quandt ($15.6 billion)
60. Ray Dalio ($15.4 billion)
61. Vladimir Potanin (15.4 billion)
62 Serge Dassault (15.3 billion)
(Figures as produced by Forbes.com)
Independent News Service