The growing concentration of the world’s wealth has been highlighted by a report showing that the 26 richest billionaires own as many assets as the 3.8 billion people who make up the poorest half of the planet’s population.
2018 had been a year in which the rich had grown richer and the poor poorer.
A widening gap was hindering the fight against poverty, a wealth tax on the 1% would raise an estimated $418bn (£325bn) a year – enough to educate every child not in school and provide healthcare that would prevent 3 million deaths.
The wealth of more than 2,200 billionaires across the globe has increased by $900bn in 2018 – or $2.5bn a day. The 12% increase in the wealth of the very richest contrasted with a fall of 11% in the wealth of the poorest half of the world’s population.
The billionaires are owning as much wealth as half the world’s population gell to 26 last year. In 2016 the number was 61.
The massive fall in the number of people living in extreme poverty is one of the greatest achievements of the past quarter of a century but rising inequality is jeopardising further progress.
The way our economies are organised means wealth is increasingly and unfairly concentrated among a privileged few while millions of people are barely subsisting. Women are dying for lack of decent maternity care and children are being denied an education that could be their route out of poverty. No one should be condemned to an earlier grave or a life of illiteracy simply because they were born poor.
It doesn’t have to be this way – there is enough wealth in the world to provide everyone with a fair chance in life. Governments should act to ensure that taxes raised from wealth and businesses paying their fair share are used to fund free, good-quality public services that can save and transform people’s lives.
many governments were making inequality worse by failing to invest enough in public services. It noted that about 10,000 people per day die for lack of healthcare and there were 262 million children not in school, often because their parents were unable to afford the fees, uniforms or textbooks.
governments needed to do more to fund high-quality, universal public services through tackling tax dodging and ensuring fairer taxation, including on corporations and the richest individuals’ wealth, which it said were often undertaxed.
A global wealth tax has been called for by the French economist Thomas Piketty, who has said action is needed to arrest the trend in inequality.
In between 1980 and 2016 the poorest 50% of humanity only captured 12 cents in every dollar of global income growth. By contrast, the top 1% captured 27 cents of every dollar.