Richest 1 Percent Own Nearly Half the World's Wealth: Report

Tuesday, 21 Jan 2014 03:14 PM

By Michael Mullins

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The world's richest 1 percent own considerably more wealth than half the world’s poorest population, according to a report published Monday by the British humanitarian group Oxfam International.

In the report titled "Working for the Few," the humanitarian group found that 46 percent of the world's wealth, or $110 trillion, is owned by the top 1 percent, which is equivalent to 65 times the total wealth of the bottom half of the population.

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"It is staggering that in the 21st century, half of the world's population own no more than a tiny elite whose numbers could all sit comfortably in a single train carriage," Winnie Byanyima, Oxfam's executive director, said following the report’s release, the Los Angeles Times reported.

"Widening inequality is creating a vicious circle where wealth and power are increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few, leaving the rest of us to fight over crumbs from the top table," Byanyima added.

The report also found that the 85 wealthiest individuals have a combined wealth of $1.7 trillion, which is equivalent to what is owned by 3.5 billion, or half, of the world’s poorest people.

Among its findings, Oxfam also reported that in 2013 some 210 people have become billionaires, joining an elite group of 1,426 individuals who have a combined net worth of $5.4 trillion.

Oxfam concluded that such an increasing income gap between the privileged few and desolate many around the world posed a major risk to "human progress."

"This massive concentration of economic resources in the hands of fewer people presents a significant threat to inclusive political and economic systems," the report said. "Instead of moving forward together, people are increasingly separated by economic and political power, inevitably heightening social tensions and increasing the risk of societal breakdown."

On Monday, a Gallup poll showed that two-thirds of Americans were dissatisfied with the way income and wealth are distributed in the nation.

Despite his focus on income inequality, calling it a "fundamental threat to the American dream," President Barack Obama has seen the income gap between rich and poor expand in the United States during his time in office.

The richest 10 percent of Americans earned a larger share of income last year than at any time since 1917, according to Emmanuel Saez, an economist at the University of California at Berkeley.

Those in the top one-tenth of income distribution earned at least $146,000 in 2012, almost 12 times what those in the bottom tenth made, Census Bureau data show.

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