01/22/2018, 17.33
ASIA
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Oxfam: 82 per cent of new wealth went to 1 per cent of the world population

In 2017, the number of billionaires rose one every two days. Their wealth jumped by US$ 762 billion. In Indonesia, the 27 richest men own more than 100 million people. China saw a slight reduction in income disparity, but wealth disparity is up.

Davos (AsiaNews/Agencies) – About 82 per cent of all the wealth generated last year in the world went to 1 per cent of the population, whilst the bottom 50 per cent (3.7 billion people) did not benefit from any increase, this according to a report released today on the eve of the World Economic Forum in Davos (Switzerland).

The study by Oxfam, an international confederation of non-profit organisations dedicated to the reduction of global poverty, found that the number of billionaires rose one every two days between March 2016 and March 2017.

There currently are 2,043 billionaires in the world and nine out of ten are men. Their wealth has grown by US$ 762 billion over the 12-mont period, an increase that represents seven times the amount of resources needed to raise 789 million people out of extreme poverty.

For Oxfam, it is the dangerous and underpaid work of most of the world's population that adds to wealth of a few. And the burden of the worst working conditions falls upon women.

In Indonesia, the 27 richest men own more wealth than 100 million people. In Vietnam, to raise the wages of all 2.5 million garment workers to a decent level would require 2.2 billion dollars a year: one third of the sum paid to the shareholders of the five main clothing manufacturers.

At the national level, the last 30 years saw a jump in income inequality in most countries, including the most populous in the world, China and India. Seven out of ten people live in a country where income inequality has increased.

However, there are also considerable differences. In the 1990s, South American nations saw a rapid increase in inequality followed by a considerable reduction in the past 15 years. Conversely, over the same period, Asia nations have gone from reasonably inclusive growth to a rapid increase in income inequality.

Starting in 2008, some countries, like China, have seen a slight reduction in income disparity, although the latter remains very high.

The picture that emerges in the few countries for which data are available shows that wealth inequality is much greater than income inequality and that it has significantly risen in recent decades.

In China, wealth concentration in the top 10 per cent of the population rose rapidly and is now similar to that of the United States. In the latter, the share of wealth of the richest 0.1 per cent rose from 7 per cent to 22 per cent between 1978 and 2012.

The reduction in income inequality in the world is determined by the increase in income of the middle and lower segments of the population.

However, whilst this has dropped mainly due to Asian growth, it has drastically increased in individual Asian nations.

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