The 62 richest people on the planet have as much wealth as the poorest half of the world’s population, according to a new report from Oxfam. The global organization, which strives to find solutions to end poverty, says the report only serves to further illustrate the problem with income inequality.
Oxfam’s report was published Monday and timed to coincide with the start of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, this week.
The 62 billionaires consist of 53 men and nine women. Leaders in Seattle technology on the world’s richest list include Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates; Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos; former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer; and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. Many of the billionaires, like Gates and Allen, have pledged to give away their fortunes as part of massive philanthropic efforts.
In fact, Gates and fellow billionaire Warren Buffett started the “Giving Pledge” in 2010 to encourage other wealthy individuals to donate vast amounts of money to philanthropic causes.
Oxfam says the richest 1 percent owns more than the other 99 percent combined. It predicted this would happen in 2016 and the fact that it has become reality a year ahead of time illustrates how quickly the world’s income gap is widening. In 2010, 388 billionaires had as much wealth as half the world. Last year the number was 80.
An Oxfam graphic used to illustrate the trend showed which types of transportation would be needed to carry the richest group. A jumbo jetliner five years ago has been eclipsed by a bus in 2016. If the trend continues, 15 years from now we could see two guys sharing a scooter.
According to its website, the group is calling for urgent action to “reverse the dramatic fall in wealth of the poorest half of the world.” Oxfam wants world leaders to adopt a three-pronged approach:
- Crack down on tax dodging
- Increase investment in public services
- Take action to boost the income of the lowest paid