Wealth gap grows in Singapore and India, South Korea and Indonesia address it

Addressing inequality does not depend on a country’s wealth but on political will. The gap between the super-rich and the rest of humanity continues to grow. Most of the world's wealth is concentrated in three regions: North America, Europe and Asia. The total number of Asia’s billionaires rose to 784, toping North America’s 727.

London (AsiaNews) - Singapore and India are among the countries that are fuelling the gap between rich and poor. Conversely, South Korea and Indonesia have been praised for their efforts to reduce inequalities through policies on social spending, taxes and workers' rights, said Oxfam, a confederation of independent charities focused on alleviating global poverty.

The aid agency has launched an index highlighting those nations that do the least to close the divide between haves and have-nots. For Oxfam, inequality does not depend on a country’s wealth but on political will.

Singapore, one of the wealthiest countries in the world, is among the bottom ten on the index. South Korea, 56th on the list, is praised for raising the minimum wage by 16.4 per cent last year.

China (81) ranks ahead of India (147), devoting more than double of its budget to healthcare and almost four times as much its welfare expenditure than India.

Despite such efforts, the worldwide gap between the super-rich and the rest of the world continues to grow. In fact, the global billionaire population grew strongly in 2017, rising by almost 15 per cent to an all-time high of 2,754 individuals.

The net results is that, last year, the world’s wealthiest 42 people owned the equivalent net wealth of 3.7 billion people. The number of people with a net worth equivalent to the bottom 50 per cent of the world’s 7.6 billion population grew from eight to 61.

Currently, most of the world’s wealth is concentrated in three regions. North America accounts for about US$ 3,272 billion and has grown by 22.8 per cent since 2016, whilst Asia’s US$ 2,365 billion share increased by 49.4 per cent, and Europe expanded 4.9 per cent to US$ 2,441 billion.

Led by China, Hong Kong and India, the total number of billionaires in Asia rose to 784, overtaking for the first time North America, which has 727.

In 2017, Hong Kong created 21 new billionaires, bringing its total count to 93 — just 10 fewer than New York.