Find out more about Inequality
In a world where just 8 billionaires own the same wealth as half the world’s population, extreme inequality is spiralling out of control.
Inequality is also on the rise in Australia. The richest 1% of the Australian population have 22% of total Australian wealth.
New and better data on the distribution of global wealth, particularly in India and China – indicates that the poorest half of the world has less wealth than previously thought. Had this new data been available, it would have shown that nine billionaires owned the same wealth as the poorest half of the planet, and not 62, as Oxfam calculated at the time.
So what’s driving inequality?
It’s a complex picture but some of the key drivers of economic inequality are:
- a shift in what’s valued in many countries – there’s been a greater financial return placed on money and assets (capital) than on work
- governments cutting the tax rates for money made on capital at the same time as people with that capital taking steps to avoid the tax they should pay
- wages for the top earners skyrocketing while the wages of average workers barely change, and crucially;
- individuals and firms who have the capital using their power and position to have the rules changed in their favour.
With extreme wealth comes the power to influence the rules. That means that we end up with government policies that favour the super rich, regardless of what would work best for the rest of us. These policies increase poverty and create economic instability (as we saw with the recent financial crisis).
So extreme inequality isn’t just unfair — it’s downright dangerous. In developed and developing countries alike, the lowest tax rates, the best health and education and the opportunity to influence are being given to the rich and their children.
The impact of extreme inequality is most keenly felt in developing countries where missing out means remaining trapped in the cycle of extreme poverty. It’s estimated that tax dodging by multinational companies costs the world’s poorest countries at least $100 billion every year.
On its own, that’s a staggering figure. But when you consider how much healthcare and education that money could enable in these countries, it becomes truly shocking.
But such deep inequality is not inevitable, and it can and must be reversed quickly.
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