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Oxfam released study tittled Wealth: Having it All and Wanting More

Jan 21, 2015 16:07 IST

Anti-poverty charity Oxfam on 19 January 2015 released study tittled Wealth: Having it all and wanting more.

The study highlighted that the wealthiest 1% will soon own more than the rest of the world's population by 2016.  Currently, 85 billionaires have the same wealth as the bottom half of the world’s population.

The study show that the share of the world's wealth owned by the richest 1% increased from 44% in 2009 to 48% in 2014.

These wealthy individuals have generated and sustained their vast riches through their interests and activities in a few important economic sectors, including finance and insurance and pharmaceuticals and healthcare.

Main Highlights of the study

Global wealth is increasingly being concentrated in the hands of a small wealthy elite

In 2014, the richest 1% of people in the world owned 48% of global wealth, leaving just 52% to be shared between the other 99% of adults on the planet. Almost all of that 52% is owned by those included in the richest 20%, leaving just 5.5% for the remaining 80% of people in the world.

The very richest of the top 1%, the billionaires on the Forbes list, have seen their wealth accumulate even faster over this period. In 2010, the richest 80 people in the world had a net wealth of $1.3tn. By 2014, the 80 people who top the Forbes rich list had a collective wealth of $1.9tn; an increase of $600bn in just 4 years, or 50% in nominal terms.

Wealthy individuals have generated and sustained their riches through interests and activities in a few important economic sector

There are a few important economic sectors that have contributed to the accumulation of wealth of billionaires. In March 2014, 20 percent  of them were listed as having interests or activities in, the financial and insurance sectors,the most commonly cited source of wealth for billionaires on this list.

Since March 2013, there have been 37 new billionaires from these sectors, and six have dropped off the list. The accumulated wealth of billionaires from these sectors has increased from 1.01tn US dollar to 1.16tn US dollar in a single year; a nominal increase of 150 billion US dollar or 15%.

Between 2013 and 2014 billionaires listed as having interests and activities in the pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors saw the biggest increase in their collective wealth.

Companies from the finance and pharmaceutical sectors spent millions of dollars in 2013 on lobbying

During 2013, the finance sector spent more than 400 million US dollar on lobbying in the USA alone, 12% of the total amount spent by all sectors on lobbying in the US in 2013.

The number of US finance billionaires increased from 141 to 150, and their collective wealth from 535 billion US dollar to 629 billion US doolar. It is  an increase of 94 billion US dollar, or 17% in a single year.

In the EU, an estimated 150 million US dollar is spent by financial sector lobbyists towards EU institutions every year. Between March 2013 and March 2014, the number of billionaires in the EU with activities and interests in the financial sector increased from 31 to 39, an increase in collective wealth of 34 billion US dollar to 128 billion US dollar.

The most prolific lobbying activities in the us are on budget and tax issues

In the US, the two issues which most lobbying is reported against are the federal budget and appropriations and taxes. These are the public resources, which companies are aiming to directly influence for their own benefit, using their substantial cash resources.

Lobbying on tax issues in particular can directly undermine public interests, where a reduction in the tax burden to companies results in less money for delivering essential public services.

Oxfam suggestion for reducing inequality

• Make governments work for citizens and tackle extreme inequality
• Promote women’s economic equality and women’s rights
• Pay workers a living wage and close the gap with skyrocketing executive reward
• Share the tax burden fairly to level the playing field
• Close international tax loopholes and fill holes in tax governance
• Achieve universal free public services by 2020
• Change the global system for research and development (R&D) and pricing of medicines so that everyone has access to appropriate and affordable medicines
• Implement a universal social protection floor
• Target development finance at reducing inequality and poverty, and strengthening the compact between citizens and their government

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