Global Inequality growing ?

Oxfam’s has in a third year come out with well-timed press releases that cover its concern about the world’s increasing gap between the rich and the poor.  These communication exercises are obviously aimed at the yearly meetings at the World Economic Forum of Davos.

Is Global Inequality really growing ?

Oxfam, a UK based charity now gone global, published last month a report informing on the wealth of the world’s richest people and highlighted the growing differentiation of the rich from the poor, demonstrating at the same time that 62 richest billionaires in the world would own as much wealth as the world’s poorest 3.6 billion peoples.  Oxfam’s estimate that each of the 62 billionaires wealth is $23.4 billion whereas it is merely $489 per capita for the poorer half of the world’s population.

The United Nations produced its own report that covered the global humanitarian finance gap that is growing according to the UN’s Secretary-General  . . . [ms-protect-content] Ban Ki-Moon who at the Dubai’s  International Humanitarian City repeated the report’s recommendations to try and close this $15 billion humanitarian financing gap.  A gap that is preventing vital aid to reach most of the 125 million people in need around the world.

Richest 1% will own more than all the rest by 2016

Oxfam published on 19 January 2015.

Extreme inequality isn’t just a moral wrong.  We know that it hampers economic growth and it threatens the private sector’s bottom line.

By Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director, Oxfam International

The combined wealth of the richest 1 percent will overtake that of the other 99 percent of people next year unless the current trend of rising inequality is checked, Oxfam warned today ahead of the annual World Economic Forum meeting in Davos.

The international agency, whose executive director Winnie Byanyima will co-chair the Davos event, warned that the explosion in inequality is holding back the fight against global poverty at a time when 1 in 9 people do not have enough to eat and more than a billion people still live on less than $1.25-a-day.

Byanyima will use her position at Davos to call for urgent action to stem this rising tide of inequality, starting with a crackdown on tax dodging by corporations, and to push for progress towards a global deal on climate change.

Wealth: Having It All and Wanting More, a research paper published today by Oxfam, shows that the richest 1 percent have seen their share of global wealth increase from 44 percent in 2009 to 48 percent in 2014 and at this rate will be more than 50 percent in 2016. Members of this global elite had an average wealth of $2.7 million per adult in 2014.richest

Of the remaining 52 percent of global wealth, almost all (46 percent) is owned by the rest of the richest fifth of the world’s population. The other 80 percent share just 5.5 percent and had an average wealth of $3,851 per adult – that’s 1/700th of the average wealth of the 1 percent.

The Financial Times  commented Oxfam’s assertion  as :

Staggering inequality as portrayed by Oxfam numerous accounts is somehow not to the liking of the Financial Times of 18 January 2016 .

Everyone should accept wealth inequality in the world is large. The better news is that in most people’s recent lives, the world has witnessed declining global income inequality and poverty. Those are the two big facts. (Max Roser’s website shows this and more)

So, no one should take the Oxfam numbers too seriously.  But if you are inclined to, here are three additional reasons for caution.

  1. The Oxfam numbers are made up
  2. The wealth measure is problematic
  3. The rising US dollar mucks up all the numbers

For further reading, see the FT‘s article.

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