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Globalisation Davos Wealth Inequality

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The number of billionaires doubled in 10 years as poor got poorer - Oxfam

Jeff Bezos, CEO of web giant Amazon, commands a personal fortune of 112 billion euros, making him the world's wealthiest person in 2018, according to Oxfam. Getty Images/Bloomberg/Patrick Fallon

The number of billionaires around the world has doubled in the past ten years, and last year their wealth grew by about the same rate as it declined for the poorest half of humanity, anti-poverty group Oxfam said Monday.

Oxfam’s report, published each year to coincide with the launch of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, calculates that the number of billionaires worldwide has grown from 1,125 to 2,208 in the ten years since the global financial crisis of 2008.

Charlotte Becker, Davos campaign leader with Oxfam International 21/01/2019 - by Mike Woods Listen

Last year saw not only two new billionaires every day, but also an increase in their combined fortunes by an amount equal to 2.2 billion euros per day, making for a 12 percent increase overall.

As a result, the world’s 26 richest people possess as much wealth as the poorest half of the world population, whose collective wealth declined by 11 percent in the same period.

Oxfam says these trends are the result of fiscal policies that have allowed the wealthy to pay less taxes.

“The richest in our societies, and also corporations, are enjoying lower tax rates than they have in a decade,” says Charlotte Becker, Oxfam’s Davos campaign leader.

Such an economic model means that while 6.7 trillion euros’ worth of funds are kept from tax authorities around the world, there is less will on the part of governments to invest in public services and take measures to reduce poverty.

“The rate of poverty reduction […] has halved since 2013,” Becker says. “And in some parts of the African continent, extreme poverty, people living on less than 1.90 [US dollars] per day, is actually increasing.”

The charity says that if the wealthy paid more taxes, most governments would have ample resources to fund public services.