Income inequality has surged to “extreme levels” around the world, according to Oxfam’s latest report, with the number of billionaires more than doubling since the global financial crisis of 2009.
With 1,645 billionaires worldwide, the anti-poverty campaigners say the gap between rich and poor has swelled to "new extremes"— and they have some startling statistics to reinforce their point.
"At the start of 2014, Oxfam calculated that the richest 85 people on the planet owned as much as the poorest half of humanity," the report reads. "Between March 2013 and March 2014, these 85 people grew $668 million richer each day."'
A staggering statistic from the study: "If Bill Gates were to cash in all of his wealth, and spend $1m every single day, it would take him 218 years to spend it all.”
Oxfam produced this table of the number of years it would take the world's 10 richest people to spend their wealth, as well as their earnings at moderate and average rates of interest.
Income inequality within countries is also on the rise, according to Oxfam, with seven out of 10 people around the world living in countries where the gap between rich and poor has expanded in the last 30 years.
According to Oxfam's calculations, a tax of 1.5% on billionaires' wealth over $1 billion in 2014 would raise $74 billion—or enough money to fill the annual gaps in funding needed to send every child in the world to school and deliver health care to the poorest countries.
The group is launching a campaign to pressure governments to implement policies that will redistribute money and power to ensure the world's poor benefit more directly.
The measures include the introduction of legislation ensuring equal pay for women and the implementation of minimum wage laws.
"Inequality is one of the defining problems of our age," said Mark Goldring, Oxfam's chief executive. "In a world where hundreds of millions of people are living without access to clean drinking water and without enough food to feed their families, a small elite have more money than they could spend in several lifetimes."