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85 richest people as wealthy as 3.5 billion poorest, says Oxfam‏

  Monday 20th January 2014

A shocking report published by Oxfam this morning has revealed the spiralling levels of income inequality between the world’s richest and poorest people.

Oxfam's executive director, Winnie Byanyima (pictured), says the "cascade of inequality" will "carry down the generations" if action is not taken. Photo: World Economic Forum

Oxfam’s executive director, Winnie Byanyima (pictured), says the “cascade of inequality” will “carry down the generations” if action is not taken. Photo: World Economic Forum

The report, entitled Working For the Few, warns the high concentration of wealth can have a “pernicious impact” on equal political representation, that it “compounds other inequalities” and that it can have “negative impacts” on both economic growth and poverty reduction.

Some of the key findings of the report expose how exorbitant the levels of inequality have become, For instance, the richest 1% of the population now own a staggering 65 times more wealth than the poorest 50%. There are also signs that this will only get worse, with the same 1% increasing their share of income between 1980-2012 in 24 of the 26 countries for which there is data.

Polling carried out by Oxfam in Spain, Brazil, India, South Africa, the UK and the US found that the majority of people polled believed that “laws are skewed in favour of the rich”. The report makes a number of recommendations including: curbing tax dodging, more progressive taxation, greater transparency and implementing a living wage.

Oxfam hopes the report will put income inequality and “political capture” by elites at the top of the agenda for the forthcoming World Economic Forum in Davos.

Executive director of Oxfam, Winnie Byanyima, said: “We cannot hope to win the fight against poverty without tackling inequality. Widening inequality is creating a vicious circle where wealth and power are increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few, leaving the rest of us to fight over crumbs from the top table. We will soon live in a world where equality of opportunity is just a dream.”

Joe Turnbull

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