26 individuals are as wealthy as half of all humanity combined: Oxfam report

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Published Jan. 21, 2019 10:08 a.m. ET
Updated Jan. 21, 2019 2:50 p.m. ET
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The world’s 26 richest people own as much as the poorest half of humanity, according to a new report looking at global wealth.

Oxfam released the report Monday, to coincide with the opening of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

It found that the gap between rich and poor has grown substantially since the 2008 global financial crisis, with the world’s billionaire count doubling.

In 2018 alone, the report found, the world’s billionaires added $900 billion to their total riches while the combined wealth of the poorest 50 per cent of humanity fell by 11 per cent.

Approximately 3.4 billion people, or nearly half of the world’s population, are living on less than US$5.50 a day, according to the report.

Melanie Gallant, campaigns manager at Oxfam Canada, called the income inequality “staggering.”

“We’re talking about an increase of $3.6 billion a day in the wealth of billionaires,” she told CTV News Channel on Monday in Ottawa.

“A woman in Bangladesh who is working in a clothing factory every day would have to work her entire life in order to make the amount of money that a CEO at a fashion company makes in just four days,” she added.

Gallant said women are particularly hard hit by income inequality, which she blamed on a “global economic model that’s rewarding wealth and not rewarding hard work.”

“If the wealthy and corporations don’t pay their fair share on taxes, this money is not available to reinvest in public services like health care, child care and education,” Gallant added.

Oxfam also issued a series of recommendations to reduce income inequality, calling on governments to deliver universal free health care and education, find ways to ease the burden on women as caregivers and increase taxes on the rich.

In Canada, Oxfam is asking the federal government to reduce income inequality by providing more funding for child care, according to Gallant.

Last year’s version of the Oxfam report found that it would have taken the world’s 43 richest people to match the wealth of the bottom 50 per cent.


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