82 percent of the wealth created in 2017 “went to the richest one percent” of the world’s people, according to Oxfam. In their recent report entitled Reward Work, Not Wealth, the non-profit organization reveals a worsening inequality crisis in which “the benefits of economic growth continue to concentrate in fewer hands.” The report was published as world leaders prepare to convene for the upcoming World Economic Forum in Davos.
The Oxfam report shows that 2017 “saw the biggest increase in the number of billionaires in history” – a new one every other day during a year. There are 2,043 dollar billionaires on Earth, and “nine out of 10 are men.” The billionaires’ wealth increased by $762 billion in 12 months – “enough to end extreme poverty seven times over.”
While 42 people “own the same wealth as the bottom 3.7 billion people,” 61 people own the same wealth as the bottom 50 percent. And “the richest one percent continue to own more wealth than the whole of the rest of humanity.”
Economist Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University said in the report, “Sometimes the super-rich call out Oxfam and others for ‘stoking class warfare’ but the truth is that in many societies, including my own, the United States, many of the super-rich have in effect declared war on the poor. The urgent need is to rebalance the tables, defend the rights of the poor, and re-establish fair societies that meet the needs of all in line with globally agreed goals.”
Oxfam called on policy makers to acknowledge how the world’s economic system is impacting poor people in the world, and make changes to promote greater equality. They listed such policies as ending the gender pay gap, and protecting women workers’ rights as steps toward that goal. They also said in their statement they estimate “a global tax of 1.5 percent on billionaires’ wealth could pay for every child to go to school.”