Just 62 people own the same wealth as 3.6 billion


An image from Zambia – a country with a fast-growing economy and widening wealth gap

​As the disparity in wealth between the richest and the poorest continues to grow, Oxfam demands a crack down on tax havens used by the super-rich.

Graham Martin's photo

18th January 2016 by Graham Martin 2 Comments

The devastating reality of wealth disparity has been laid bare in a new report which shows that just 62 individuals own as much as the poorest half of the world's population – that’s 3.6 billion people.

Oxfam says that the wealth of the globe’s least well off has shrunk by a trillion dollars since 2010, while the wealth concentrated in the hands of the richest has rocketed.

The campaign group published its report, An Economy For The 1%, to coincide with the opening of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Wednesday – an annual get together of the world's financial and political elites.

After the 2015 event, Oxfam predicted that the gap between the richest and the rest would widen to the extent that 1% of the population would own more than everyone else within a year.

According to the group’s own calculations, that has now be become a reality.

It is simply unacceptable that the poorest half of the world population owns no more than a small group of the global super-rich

Oxfam is now calling for urgent action to tackle the inequality crisis.

It is urging world leaders to adopt a three-pronged approach – cracking down on tax dodging, increased investment in public services and action to boost the income of the lowest paid.  

As a priority, it wants to see an end to the era of tax havens which has seen rich individuals and companies increasingly use of offshore centres to avoid paying their fair share to society.

This has denied governments valuable resources needed to tackle poverty and inequality.

It is three years since David Cameron told world leaders at the World Economic Forum at Davos that he would lead a global effort against aggressive tax avoidance in the UK and in poor countries. However promised measures to increase transparency in British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies, such as the Cayman Islands and British Virgin Islands, have not yet been implemented.

Mark Goldring, Oxfam GB chief executive, said: "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. 

"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."

Oxfam has started an online campaign demanding the UK government crack down on tax havens. 


19th January 2016 by William Douglas

Most third sector workers in the UK are in the wealthiest 10% in the world. With a salary of £12,500 you are one of the richest 9.8% in the world. Even if you donated 10% of your salary to charity, you would still be in the top 12% Shocking, isn't it?

19th January 2016 by Rose Burn

Oxfam's analysis has been widely criticised for being far too simple. Most of these super rich are people like Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg who have built up very successful businesses which they still own. Academic research shows that across the world wealth inequality has declined in recent years - think of the rise of China - see the OECD's reports for more information.