Global wealth is gravitating into the hands of the rich elite at an alarming rate that will soon mean 1% of the population will control more cash than the rest of the people in the world combined.
The claim, from charity Oxfam, argues this band of ultra-wealthy individuals have built their fortunes by focussing on a few key economic sectors, such as finance and pharmaceuticals and healthcare.
The study also maintains that companies in these sectors spend millions of pounds every year lobbying governments to protect and enhance their interests – with the result the rich carry on getting richer at the expense of everyone else.
As a result, Oxfam is appealing for governments to ignore the lobbyists and concentrate spending on policies that help the whole population instead of an illustrious few.
Last year, says Oxfam, the richest 1% of people in the world controlled 48% of global resources.
The second-tier of wealthy individuals making up another 20% of the global population also control 46.5% of wealth. That leaves just 5.5% to share between the remaining 79% of population.
The research shows that the 80 wealthiest individuals had a combined net worth of $1.3 trillion last year – and that they added $600 billion to their cash pile in the past four years.
Oxfam argues that if this trend continues, they will control more than 50% of the world’s wealth by 2016.
The statistics show that the world’s poorest 3.5 billion people share the same amount of wealth as the world’s richest 80 individuals.
“In 2010, the combined wealth of 388 billionaires equalled the wealth of the poorest 50% of the world’s population. In four years, this has dropped to just 80,” said an Oxfam spokesman.
Forbes magazine, which publishes an annual rich list, named 1,645 billionaires in 2014.
Oxfam points out that these people are not representative of global demography – 30% come from the USA, 34% inherited their riches, 85% are aged 50 or over and 90% are men.
The charity wants governments to adopt nine recommendations to even up the world’s wealth, which include paying better wages, promoting more women, closing tax loopholes and giving everyone access to free medicines.
“The world must build a fairer global financial and political system for everyone, not just the few who can afford to defend their rights,” said the spokesman. “World leaders and the wealthy should lead the debate on redistributing money and power held by a few to the many.”