In Brief

Richest 0.1% boost their wealth by as much as poorest half

Inequality report shows UK’s super-wealthy have doubled their share of country’s wealth since 1984

The total wealth of the richest 0.1% of the world’s population has grown by as much as that of the poorest 50% over the past 40 years, according to the World Inequality Report.

 Published by celebrated French economist Thomas Piketty and drawing on the work of more than 100 researchers, the report details the widening gap between the very rich and poor since 1980.

It concludes that wealth inequality has become “extreme” in Russia and the US, where the richest 1% accounted for 39% of the nation’s wealth in 2014, compared with just 22% in 1980. In the UK, the richest 1% control 22% of the country’s wealth while the top 0.1% have seen their share of wealth double between 1984 and 2013.

Piketty, who shot to fame following the publication of his book Capital in the Twenty-First Century, said there was a “huge gap” in wealth between the richest people in the UK and everyone else in the country, driven by sluggish wage and income growth for those between the bottom 50% and top 1%.

While inequality was high in north America and Europe, “the problem is even more acute in Africa, Brazil and the Middle East, where inequality has remained relatively stable at extremely high levels in recent decades”, says The Guardian.

Yet, the economists have said ballooning levels of inequality are “not inevitable” but would only be addressed if governments took coordinated action to introduce progressive income taxes rises and prevent tax avoidance.

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