People Own as Much as the Poorest 3.8 Billion

Clay Curtis
January 21, 2019

Noting that wealth is becoming even more concentrated, Oxfam said 26 people now own the same as the 3.8 billion people who make up the poorest half of humanity, down from 44 people a year ago.

The study showed that India's top 10% holds 77.4% of the total national wealth, while the top 1% holds 51.53% of the wealth.

"India's combined revenue and capital expenditure of the Centre and state for medical and public health, sanitation and water supply is Rs 2,08,166 crore, less than the wealth of India's richest billionaire Mukesh Ambani at Rs 2,80,700 crore", it added.

The world's 26 richest people own the same wealth as the poorest half of humanity, according to Oxfam International, as it urged governments to rise taxes on the wealthy to fight soaring inequality.

A study conducted by Oxfam on Monday revealed that the fortunes of Indian billionaires increased by Rs 2,200 crore a day past year, with the top 1 per cent of the country's richest getting richer by 39 per cent, while the bottom-half of the population saw an increase of just 3 per cent in their wealth.

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"Our economy is broken with hundreds of millions of people living in extreme poverty while huge rewards go to those at the very top", Oxfam said.

Oxfam further said getting India's richest 1 per cent pay just 0.5 per cent extra tax on their wealth could raise enough money enough to increase the government spending on health by 50 per cent.

In 2018, billionaire fortunes grew by 12 percent - about $2.5 billion every day - as the world's 3.8 billion poorest people lost about 11 percent of their wealth, according to a report by Oxfam launched to coincide with this year's World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

It also suggested governments look again at taxes on inheritances or property, which have been reduced or eliminated in much of the developed world and barely implemented in the developing world. Meanwhile, children from poor Indian families are three times more likely to die before their first birthday than those born to affluent ones. The paid work that Indian women do bring them fewer earnings due to the existing wage gap and, therefore, households that rely primarily on female earners tend to be poorer, Oxfam said, referring to the country's gender pay gap at 34%. Oxfam estimates that if all the unpaid care work carried out by women across the globe was done by a single company, it would have an annual turnover of $10 trillion. Then there's the rampant level of tax dodging by the super-rich and corporations.

Singling out U.S. President Donald Trump and the Republican Party's $1.5 trillion in tax cuts for the rich as the kind of upward redistribution that has worsened inequality at the expense of the world's poor and working class, O'Brien said that only transformative political and economic changes across the globe will be sufficient to close the gap between the rich and everyone else. "The top rate of personal income tax in rich countries fell from 62 percent in 1970 to just 38 percent in 2013". That's where funds raised through effective and fairer taxation can make a big difference.

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