The rich are getting even wealthier

"Inequality at such pace and scale is happening by choice, not chance...," "Not only have our economic structures made all of us less safe against this pandemic, they...

0
Left to right, from top: Warren Buffett, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Steve Ballmer, Larry Ellison, Bernard Arnault, Sergey Brin, Larry Page.

The coronavirus pandemic has worsened the massive financial gap  between rich and poor around the world, a new report has found.

Billionaires added $5 trillion to their fortunes during the pandemic, according to Oxfam, exacerbating economic inequalities as the pandemic   pushed millions of people around the world into poverty.

Using data compiled by Forbes, Oxfam says in a new report that the total wealth of billionaires  jumped from $8.6 trillion in March 2020 to $13.8 trillion in November 2021, a bigger increase than in the previous 14 years combined.

The world’s richest 10 men saw their collective wealth more than double, shooting up by $1.3 billion a day. 

The report was released ahead of the World Economic Forum’s online Davos Agenda, which will take place this week after the group’s annual in-person meeting was delayed due to Omicron. Oxfam argues that governments should tax gains made by the super-rich during the pandemic and use the money to fund health care systems, pay for vaccines, fight discrimination and address the climate crisis.

“Billionaires have had a terrific pandemic. Central banks pumped trillions of dollars into financial markets to save the economy, yet much of that has ended up lining the pockets of billionaires riding a stock market boom,” Gabriela Bucher, Oxfam’s executive director, said in a press release.

The combined wealth of the top 10 billionaires —

including Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Amazon(founder Jeff Bezos — doubled during the pandemic and is now six times greater than that of the world’s poorest 3.1 billion people, according to the report.

“Inequality at such pace and scale is happening by choice, not chance,” Bucher said. “Not only have our economic structures made all of us less safe against this pandemic, they are actively enabling those who are already extremely rich and powerful to exploit this crisis for their own profit.”

The pandemic has not been the “great equalizer” some predicted. 

The World Bank estimates that 97 million people worldwide fell into extreme  in 2020 and are now living on less than $2 a day. The number of the world’s poorest also rose for the first time in over 20 years.

Global wealth and income gaps are huge

The richest 10% of the global population controls 76% of the world’s wealth in 2021, according to the analysis. By contrast, the bottom 50% owns a mere 2%. The middle 40%, meanwhile, owns 22%.

When it comes to income, the top 10% captures 52% of global income, while the bottom 50% earns only 8%. The middle 40% makes 39%.

In this article

Join the Conversation