In Brief

Richest 1% 'to own more than everyone else combined'

Oxfam warns that such 'staggering' global inequality will set the fight against poverty back decades

The richest one per cent of people will soon own more than the rest of the world's population combined, unless urgent action is taken to fight global inequality, according to a report from the charity Oxfam.

Global wealth is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a small, elite group, with the richest one per cent currently holding 48 per cent of global wealth, it says. This is predicted to rise to over 50 per cent by 2016 if current trends continue.  

Oxfam warns that the failure to tackle inequality "will set the fight against poverty back decades" at a time when one in nine people do not have enough to eat and over a billion people live on less than $1.25 a day.

"The scale of global inequality is quite simply staggering, and despite the issues shooting up the global agenda, the gap between the richest and the rest is widening fast," said Oxfam's executive director Winnie Byanyim.

The data was released ahead of this week's World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The charity plans to use the report to call for urgent action to combat global inequality, including clamping down on tax evasion, introducing a living wage and equal pay legislation.

"It is time our leaders took on the powerful vested interests that stand in the way of a fairer and more prosperous world," said Byanyima, who will co-chair the event. She warned that while global leaders continued to highlight the issue of inequality, "we are still waiting for many of them to walk the walk".  

Extreme inequality "is not just an accident or a natural rule of economics," Byanyima told The Guardian. "It is the result of policies and with different policies it can be reduced."

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