WORLD
22/01/2018 11:50 PM AEDT

Oxfam: 42 Billionaires Hold As Much Wealth As World's Poorest 3.7 Billion

The charity calls out President Donald Trump for making wealth inequality worse.

The world’s richest 1 percent raked in 82 percent of the wealth created last year, according to a new report by poverty-fighting nonprofit Oxfam. Just 42 people now hold as much wealth as the poorest 3.7 billion, the organization said. 

In the U.S., the country’s three richest people have the same wealth as the poorest half of the American population. The report called out President Donald Trump for policies that contribute to wealth inequality.

The world saw the biggest increase in billionaires in history in the year prior to March 2017, with a new one added every two days, according to Oxfam’s figures. The world now has 2,043 billionaires, and nine of every 10 are men.

Billionaire wealth has risen by an annual average of 13 percent since 2010 — while the average worker’s wage has risen an average of 2 percent. While billionaire income was booming last year, the poorest half of the world saw no increase in wealth, according to the report, “Reward Work, Not Wealth.

Oxfam issued the annual report on Monday, a day before the start of the World Economic Forum in the Swiss ski resort of Davos, which Trump plans to attend.

The Oxfam report specifically criticizes Trump for creating “a cabinet of billionaires” and for “pushing for huge tax cuts for the richest 1 percent” in the new tax law.

The Oxfam report, which is based on data from Forbes and the annual Credit Suisse Global Wealth datebook, blamed the wealth gap on tax evasion, corporations’ increasing influence on policy, erosion of workers’ rights, and cost cutting.

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

Political and business leaders pay lip service to the problem, but few are addressing it, Byanyima said. Indeed, “many are actively making things worse by slashing taxes and scrapping labor rights.”