The world’s richest 1% own 43% of global financial assets, and the wealth of the top five billionaires has doubled since 2020, while 60% of humanity – nearly 5 billion people – collectively got poorer, according to a report by Oxfam, a leading international humanitarian organization.
Oxfam published the study, “Inequality Inc.”, to coincide with the World Economic Forum meeting of corporate oligarchs and Western government officials in Davos, Switzerland this January.
The five richest people on Earth in 2023 were Elon Musk, Bernard Arnault, Jeff Bezos, Larry Ellison, and Warren Buffett. Their combined wealth skyrocketed from $340 billion in 2020 to $869 billion just three years later.
Adjusted for inflation, this was a real increase of 114%.
Oxfam found that the wealthiest 1% of the world population emit as much carbon pollution as the poorest two-thirds of the entire human population.
“Only 0.4 percent of the world’s largest corporations are publicly committed to paying workers a living wage and support a living wage in their value chains”, the organization wrote.
“While corporate profits are soaring, the wages of nearly 800 million workers around the world have failed to keep up with inflation, resulting in a loss of $1.5 trillion for those workers over the last two years”.
Oxfam likewise discovered that seven out of 10 of the largest corporations on the planet either have a billionaire as their CEO or have a billionaire as their principal shareholder.
“We are living through an era of monopoly power that enables corporations to control markets, set the terms of exchange, and profit without fear of losing business”, Oxfam cautioned.
This growing inequality is especially clear in the differences between the Global North and South.
“Rich people in the Global North still own the world”, Oxfam wrote.
A staggering 69.3% of the world’s wealth is located in the Global North, which has just 20.6% of the planet’s population.
Oxfam warned that the world capitalist “economic system has created a new type of colonialism”.
“Many of the world’s super-rich are concentrated in countries that were once colonial superpowers. Neocolonial relationships persist, perpetuating economic imbalances and rigging the economic rules in favor of rich nations”, the anti-poverty organization wrote.
It added, “Low- and lower-middle-income countries are set to pay nearly half a billion U.S. dollars a day in interest and debt payments between now and 2029, and they are having to make severe spending cuts to be able to pay their creditors”.