Business

Richest one per cent made 82 per cent of wealth created last year: Oxfam

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The world's richest one per cent raked in 82 per cent of the wealth created last year while the poorest half of the population received none, according to the latest Oxfam report.

A new report from the charity also found that the wealth of billionaires has grown six times faster than that of ordinary workers since 2010, with another billionaire minted every two days between March 2016 and March 2017.

Oxfam used its findings to paint a picture of a global economy in which the wealthy few amass ever-greater fortunes while hundreds of millions of people are "struggling to survive on poverty pay".

"The billionaire boom is not a sign of a thriving economy but a symptom of a failing economic system," Oxfam executive director Winnie Byanyima said in a statement.

Oxfam also emphasised the plight of women workers, who "consistently earn less than men" and often have the lowest paid, least secure jobs. Nine out of 10 billionaires are men, it added.

The report, titled "Reward Work, not Wealth", used data from Credit Suisse to compare the returns of top executives and shareholders to that of ordinary workers.

It found that chief executives of the top five global fashion brands made in just four days what garment workers in Bangladesh earn over a lifetime.

"The people who make our clothes, assemble our phones and grow our food are being exploited to ensure a steady supply of cheap goods, and swell the profits of corporations and billionaire investors,"said Byanyima.

To fight rising inequality, Oxfam called on governments to limit the returns of shareholders and top executives, close the gender pay gap, crackdown on tax avoidance and increase spending on healthcare and education.

The study was released on the eve of top political and business figures meeting at a luxury Swiss ski resort for the annual World Economic Forum, which this year says it will focus on how to create "a shared future in a fractured world".

"It's hard to find a political or business leader who doesn't say they are worried about inequality," said Byanyima.

"It's even harder to find one who is doing something about it. Many are actively making things worse by slashing taxes and scrapping labour rights."

Australia

A record number of Australian billionaires amassed an astonishing $38 billion increase in their wealth last financial year - enough money to pay for more than half of Federal public health spending, an Oxfam Australia briefing paper has revealed.

The briefing paper, Growing Gulf Between Work and Wealth, shows the number of Australian billionaires increased by eight to 33 last year - and has more than doubled over the past 10 years - while workers' wages have stagnated.


The Oxfam analysis shows inequality in Australia is higher than at any time over the past two decades. The share of wealth held by the richest one per cent continues to rise, while wage growth for ordinary workers has slowed to record lows.

Oxfam Australia CEO Helen Szoke said wage growth for ordinary workers was barely keeping up with the cost of living.

"Oxfam is committed to tackling poverty and inequality - but a broken economic system that is concentrating more wealth in the hands of the rich and powerful, while ordinary people struggle to scrape by, is fuelling an inequality crisis," Dr Szoke said.

"Over the decade since the Global Financial Crisis, the wealth of Australian billionaires has increased by almost 140 per cent to a total of $115.4 billion last year. Yet over the same time, the average wages of ordinary Australians have increased by just 36 per cent and average household wealth grew by 12 per cent.

"The richest one per cent of Australians continue to own more wealth than the bottom 70 per cent of Australians combined. While everyday Australians are struggling more and more to get by, the wealthiest groups have grown richer and richer."

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