Find out more about inequality
Each year, we work with supporters like you to shine a spotlight on the crisis of inequality. Together, we’ve exposed the injustice of the way our current global economy works, by allowing the already extremely wealthy to accumulate even more wealth while millions of people are trapped in poverty; using their money to buy influence, refusing to pay their fair share of tax, and profiting from the gender inequality that rigs the system against women and girls.
Tax the Rich – Oxfam Inequality Report 2023
We are living through an unprecedented moment of multiple crises. Tens of millions more people are facing hunger. Hundreds of millions more face impossible rises in the cost of basic goods or heating their homes. This report focuses on how taxing the rich is vital to addressing this unprecedented polycrisis and skyrocketing inequality. The report explores how, in recent history, taxation of the richest was far higher; how talk of taxing the rich and making billionaires pay their fair share is hugely popular; and how taxing the rich claws back elite power and reduces not just economic inequality, but racial, gender and colonial inequalities, too.
Inequality is a killer, contributing to the deaths of at least 21,300 people each day. That’s one person every four seconds. This is not by chance, but by choice.
During the first two years of the pandemic the world’s ten richest men more than doubled their fortunes to $1.9 trillion, while over 160 million more people were forced into poverty.
We need governments to prioritise addressing inequality in economic rescue and recovery efforts. They should tax the gains of the super-rich during this pandemic and redirect that wealth to save lives and invest in our futures. And they must redistribute power and rewrite the economic rules that created such violent, colossal divides in the first place. We saw great ambition to build fairer societies in the wake of World War 2—why not now?
View the report: Inequality Kills
While it took just nine months for global billionaire fortunes to return to their pre-pandemic highs, recovery for the world’s poorest people could take more than a decade.
In Australia, our 31 billionaires have seen their fortunes increase by nearly $85 billion since the global COVID-19 pandemic was declared.
This report offers startling new data, shows how inequalities intersect, and connects examples across countries. Crucially, it offers bold solutions. Above all, we are reminded that inequality and despair does not have to be our destiny. In solidarity, we stand ready to form a more equal and just world.
But extreme inequality is not inevitable – it’s a policy choice.
It was clear before the crisis, and is even clearer now, that Governments around the world must act to build economies that are more equal, more inclusive, and that protect the planet.
Read the report to see our five steps toward a better world.
View the report: The Inequality Virus
The coronavirus pandemic has laid bare an economic model that delivers profits for the wealthiest on the back of the poorest, with our new report ‘Power, Profits and the Pandemic’ showing 32 of the world’s largest companies stand to see their profits jump by USD $109 billion more in 2020.
We are at a critical juncture. We have a choice between returning to ‘business as usual’, or learning from this moment to design a fairer and more sustainable economy. We believe now is the time to take a good, hard look at the system we have, and start adapting it to become a fairer economy that works for all.
View the report: Power, Profits and the Pandemic
The coronavirus affects us all, even princes and prime ministers.
But the equality ends there.
The economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic could push half a billion more people – or 8 per cent of the global population – into poverty unless urgent action is taken to support developing countries.
Oxfam’s report, Dignity Not Destitution reveals that in East Asia and the Pacific, 240 million more people could be forced below the poverty line.
The crisis is showing deep and growing inequalities and unchecked this crisis will cause immense suffering.
- Over half the global population could be living in poverty in the aftermath of the pandemic.
- This could set back the fight against poverty by a decade, and as much as 30 years in some regions such as sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and North Africa.
- Women are likely to be hardest hit financially, due to unpaid care work, and the fact they are more likely to be employed in poorly paid, precarious jobs that are most at risk. More than one million Bangladeshi garment workers – 80 per cent of whom are women – have already been laid off or sent home without pay after orders from western clothing brands were cancelled or suspended.
However, together we can rebuild a better world. A fairer world. A more sustainable world. One that radically reduces the gap between the rich and poor. We need universal healthcare and universal social protection.
Together we can learn the lessons from this unprecedented crisis, to build a more human economy and a fairer world.
View the report: Dignity not Destitution
The extreme divide between rich and poor is undermining progress against poverty, damaging economies around the globe and causing public anger and unrest, especially as climate-related disasters become more commonplace.
Our January 2020 research shows there is still serious economic inequality in Australia and globally.
View the report: Time to Care
Our latest inequality report, “Public Good or Private Wealth” reveals that the wealth of the world’s billionaires increased by 12 percent or almost $3.5 billion AUD a day last year. At the same time the poorest half of humanity saw their wealth shrink by 11 percent, a burden disproportionately carried by women and girls.
View the report: Public Good or Private Wealth
View the summary: Public Good or Private Wealth – summary
View the Australian Fact Sheet: Public Good or Private Wealth – Fact Sheet
Last year saw the biggest increase in billionaires in history, one more every two days. Billionaires saw their wealth increase by $762bn in 12 months. This huge increase could have ended global extreme poverty seven times over. 82% of all wealth created in the last year went to the top 1%, while the bottom 50% saw no increase at all.
Dangerous, poorly paid work for the many is supporting extreme wealth for the few. Women are in the worst work, and almost all the super-rich are men. Governments must create a more equal society by prioritising ordinary workers and small-scale food producers instead of the rich and powerful.
View the report: Reward work not wealth
View the summary: Reward work not wealth – summary
View the Australian Fact Sheet: Growing gulf between work and wealth
Multinational tax avoidance is depriving governments of tax revenue to provide essential public services in developing and developed countries alike. In this briefing, Oxfam Australia examines the failings of the tax system that facilitate mass tax avoidance. It looks at leading global health and hygiene company RB as one example of a multinational company Oxfam thinks is not paying its fair share, and Oxfam estimates RB has avoided paying $138 million in taxes in Australia, and $365 million globally.
View the report: Making Tax Vanish in Australia
View the Oxfam Great Britain report: Making Tax Vanish
The inequality crisis is far bigger than we had feared – today just 8 men own the same wealth as the 3.6 billion people who make up the poorest half of humanity. This huge gap between the super-rich and the rest of us is trapping millions in poverty, fracturing our societies and undermining democracy. Big business and the super-rich are fuelling the inequality crisis by dodging taxes and using their money and connections to write the rules in their favour. Corporations are also driving down wages and the price they pay their producers in order to maximize returns to rich investors.
View the report: An economy for the 99%
View the Fact Sheet: Australian Inequality Report
Learn More: Understand the methodology
June 2016: Oxfam Australia has undertaken original research and modelling to show that Australian-based multinationals are ripping billions of dollars out of both the Australian economy, and the economies of some of our poorest neighbours. Using the most up-to-date global data on investment flows, the scale of tax dodging is shown, and the potential impact it is having on services for everyday people around the globe.
Learn more: The Hidden Billions
January 2016: The global inequality crisis is reaching new extremes. The richest 1% now have more wealth than the rest of the world combined. Power and privilege is being used to skew the economic system to increase the gap between the richest and the rest. A global network of tax havens further enables the richest individuals to hide $7.6 trillion. The fight against poverty will not be won until the inequality crisis is tackled.
View the report: An economy for the 1%
View the Fact Sheet: An Economy for the 1%, wealth and income statistics for Australia
Asia at the Crossroads: why the region must address inequality now
Across Asia 500 million people remain trapped in extreme poverty, despite economic growth. Much of this growth has been captured by those at the top. The region’s richest man, Hong Kong’s Li Ka-Shing, has amassed USD 31 billion in wealth – an amount that would take one of the 500 million living in extreme poverty across Asia almost 68 million years to earn, even assuming they could save all of their daily earnings.
Wealth: having it all and wanting more
Ahead of the annual World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Oxfam’s new report reveals that global wealth is increasingly being concentrated in the hands of a small wealthy elite, with the richest 1 per cent of the world’s population set to have more combined wealth than the remaining 99 per cent of people next year unless the rapid rise of inequality is stopped.
Report: Turn the Tide
Released ahead of the G20 Leaders’ Summit in November 2014, Turn the Tide reveals the wealth disparity in many G20 countries. Since the Australian Government took over the presidency in December 2013, the total wealth in the G20 increased by US $17 tr, but the richest one per cent of people in the G20 captured a staggering US $6.2 tr of this wealth – 36 per cent of the increase.
Report: Working for the Few
In January 2014, Oxfam released Working for the Few, a report which shone a light on the rapidly growing inequality across the world and it’s impacts on the fight to end poverty and hunger. Working for the Few shows that globally, the richest individuals and companies hide trillions of dollars away from the tax office in a web of tax havens around the world. It’s estimated that $21 trillion is held unrecorded and off shore.
Report: Still the Lucky Country
In June 2014, as Australia prepared to host the G20 Summit, Oxfam Australia released Still the Lucky Country? The report detailed inequality in Australia which has been on the rise since the mid 1990s. The richest 1% of Australians owns the same wealth as the bottom 60%. Australia’s richest person owns more than the bottom 10% of the population combined (2.27 million people) and the nine richest individuals have a net worth of US $54.8 billion, more than the bottom 20% (4.54 million people).
Report: The G20 and Gender Equality
In July 2014 Oxfam released a report into how the G20 could advance women’s rights in employment, social protection and fiscal policies. It found that it would take 75 more years for woman to achieve pay equality if we continued at the current rate of progress. Gender discrimination not only contributes to economic inequality — it exacerbates it. In short, the absence of women’s rights drive poverty, while their fulfilment could drive development