Despite slow wage growth across the world, the richest 500 people have grown their wealth by more than $1 trillion dollars. A new report highlights the growing gap between those at the top and the rest of the world.
The world’s 500 richest people gained another $1 trillion in the past year – including six Australian billionaires who collectively increased their wealth by almost $7 billion.
Mining magnate Gina Rinehart, property developer Harry Triguboff, commodities trader Ivan Glasenberg and packaging giant Anthony Pratt are just some of the Australians named in the latest Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
It shows the wealth of the world’s richest rose by 23 per cent largely due to global stock market gains, with the ultra-wealthy controlling a combined fortune of $5.3 trillion.
Meanwhile, the world’s average wage growth was just over two per cent.
Eight men own the same wealth as half the world's population
Economist Jim Stanford from think-tank the Australia Institute said the data confirms a growing gap between the super-rich and the rest of society.
“The one per cent or even less than one percent of the world’s economy is the group that’s really benefiting from the way things are going,” he told SBS News.
“Most of the rest of the population is just struggling to get by.”
Australia is among the world’s worst countries experiencing wage stagnation.
“There’s almost no forward progress in real wages for the people in the world who work for a living as opposed to those who own vast amounts of financial wealth,” Mr Stanford said.
“In Australia we’ve seen wages barely keeping up with inflation. That means that workers’ share of the economic pie we produce is getting smaller every year.”
Amazon's Jeff Bezos sits at the top of the global rich list, with a $35 billion increase in wealth in the past year.
Microsoft founder Bill Gates follows with a $9 billion increase. Entrepreneur Warren Buffet is third richest, with $12 billion increase in his wealth.
But what are they doing with all that money?
In 2010 Bill Gates and Warren Buffett creating the Giving Pledge, promising to give at least half their wealth to charities.
They encouraged other billionaires to sign on. 170 of them have so far, including just three Australians in Andrew and Nicola Forrest, and pokies king Leonard Ainsworth.
- Additional reporting Jarni Blakkarly