In Brief

World's eight richest men own as much as 50% of poor

Oxfam report says inequality gap is 'greater than had been feared'

Eight men own as much wealth as the poorest half of the world's population, according to Oxfam.

In a report last year, the charity said the world's 62 richest billionaires were as wealthy as half of the world's population. However, its latest study says the gap is "far greater than had been feared", with new data showing that the 3.6 billion people who make up the poorest half of the world, particularly in India and China, have less wealth than previously thought.

Mark Goldring, chief executive of Oxfam GB, said: "It is beyond grotesque that a group of men who could easily fit in a single golf buggy own more than the poorest half of humanity."

However, Ben Southwood, head of research at the Adam Smith Institute, was critical of the report, saying "it is not the wealth of the world's rich that matters, but the welfare of the world's poor, which is improving every year".

He told the BBC: "Each year we are misled by Oxfam's wealth statistics. The data is fine - it comes from Credit Suisse - but the interpretation is not."

According to the figures published today, the world's richest eight individuals are:

  • Bill Gates, US founder of Microsoft: net worth $75bn (£62.2bn)
  • Amancio Ortega, Spanish founder of Inditex, which owns the Zara fashion chain: net worth $67bn (£55.5bn)
  • Warren Buffett, US chief executive and largest shareholder in Berkshire Hathaway: net worth $60.8bn (£50.4bn)
  • Carlos Slim Helu, Mexican owner of Grupo Carso: net worth $50bn (£41.5bn)
  • Jeff Bezos, US founder, chairman and chief executive of Amazon: net worth $45.2bn (£37.5n)
  • Mark Zuckerberg, US chairman, chief executive and co-founder of Facebook: net worth $44.6bn (£37bn)
  • Larry Ellison, US co-founder and chief executive of Oracle: net worth $43.6bn (£33.2bn)
  • Michael Bloomberg, US founder, owner and chief executive of Bloomberg LP; net worth $40bn (£33.2)

Fraser Nelson at The Spectator adds that some on the list have invested large proportions of their earnings back into addressing global poverty and other good causes.

"Gates has perhaps donated more to the cause of third world development than any man alive. Or dead," he writes.

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