Richest 1 Percent: Half the World Population’s Wealth Equal to Wealth of Richest 85 People

January 20, 2014 Updated: July 18, 2015

The richest one percent own as much wealth as half the world population, a new report has found.

The Oxfam International report (pdf) outlined that the world’s richest 85 people have a combined wealth equivalent to 3.5 billion of the world’s poorest people.

“This massive concentration of economic resources in the hands of fewer people presents a significant threat to inclusive political and economic systems,” the report said.

“Instead of moving forward together, people are increasingly separated by economic and political power, inevitably heightening social tensions and increasing the risk of societal breakdown.”

The information is based on polls, surveys, and research of reports, among other data.

The global charity called on world leaders attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland later this week to take steps to level the wealth discrepancy.

Recommendations include tightening tax laws and for rich people to avoid using economic wealth to seek political favors.

Since the late 1970s, tax rates for the richest have fallen in 29 of the 30 countries for which data are available, meaning that in many places the rich not only get more money but also pay less tax on it, according to Oxfam.

Conditions in different countries and areas are highlighted in the report. In the United States, for example, years of financiel deregulation have led to the income share of the top one per cent which is now at its highest level since the eve of the Great Depression.

In India, the number of billionaires has increased tenfold in the past decade, helping by a regressive tax structure and rich people using their connections for favors from government workers.

In Africa, global corporations are exploiting people and countries to avoid taxes, among other issues.

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber
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