According to a study by anti-poverty charity Oxfam, the richest 1% will soon own more than the rest of the world’s population.
Oxfam’s research shows that the share of the world’s wealth owned by the richest 1% increased from 44% in 2009 to 48% last year.
On current trends, Oxfam says it expects the wealthiest 1% to own more than 50% of the world’s wealth by 2016.
The research coincides with the start of the World Economic Forum in Davos.
The annual gathering attracts top political and business leaders from around the world.
Oxfam’s executive director Winnie Byanyima, who will co-chair the Davos event, said she would use the charity’s high-profile role at the gathering to demand urgent action to narrow the gap between rich and poor.
“It is time our leaders took on the powerful vested interests that stand in the way of a fairer and more prosperous world.
“Business as usual for the elite isn’t a cost-free option – failure to tackle inequality will set the fight against poverty back decades. The poor are hurt twice by rising inequality – they get a smaller share of the economic pie and because extreme inequality hurts growth, there is less pie to be shared around,” she added.
Oxfam is calling on governments to adopt a seven-point plan to tackle inequality, including a clampdown on tax evasion by companies and the move towards a living wage for all workers.
It made headlines at Davos last year with the revelation that the 85 richest people on the planet have the same wealth as the poorest 50% (3.5 billion people).
It said that that comparison had now become even more stark, with the 80 richest people having the same wealth as the poorest 50%.
Oxfam said the research, published on January 19, showed that 52% of global wealth not owned by the richest 1% is owned by those in the richest 20%.
The remaining population accounts for just 5.5% of global wealth, and their average wealth was $3,851 per adult in 2014, Oxfam found.
That compares with an average wealth of $2.7 million per adult for the richest 1%.
The study comes just a day before President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, in which he is expected to call for tax increases on the wealthy to help the middle class.
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