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23 January 2014

Some stats for Davos: The richest 1 per cent own almost half the world’s wealth

Global inequality in numbers.

By Sophie McBain

As the world’s wealthiest and most influential businessmen and politicians fly into Davos for the annual World Economic Forum, and book into hotels like the Belvedere Hotel – which has stocked up on 1,594 bottles of champagne and prosecco, 80kg of salmon and 16,805 canapes to feed the high-profile delegates setting the world to rights – it’s worth revisiting Oxfam’s recent figures on the state of global inequality today:

1. The richest 1 per cent own almost half the world’s wealth ($110tn).

2. The richest 85 people own the same combined wealth as the poorest half of the world.

3. The richest 10 per cent own 86 per cent of all assets, while the poorest 70 per cent own just 3 per cent of the world’s assets.

4. The combined wealth of Europe’s 10 richest people is more than the total cost of stimulus measures implemented across the EU between 2008 and 2010 (€217bn v €300bn).

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5. The pre-tax income of the richest 1 per cent increased between 1980 and today in 24 out of 26 countries on the World Top Incomes Database. In China, Portugal and the US the incomes of the richest 1 more than doubled their share of national income in this period.

6. Since 1970, the tax on the richest has decreased in 29 out of 30 countries measured.

7. An estimated $18.5tn is held in offshore tax havens on behalf of multi-national companies and wealthy individuals. This is more than the GDP of the US.

8. Between 2008 and 2010 Sub-Saharan Africa lost $63.4bn in aid a year due to tax avoidance and evasion, more than twice the amount it received in aid.

You can read Oxfam’s report here.

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