A recent report by Oxfam, An Economy for the 1%, has found that in 2015, just 62 individuals had the same wealth as 3.6 billion people.
The wealth of these 62 people has risen by 44% in the five years since 2010, at an increase of $542 billion, to $1.76 trillion. Meanwhile, the wealth of the bottom half fell by just over a trillion dollars in the same period -– a drop of 41%.
This elite group of wealthy individuals has also fallen from 388 people to 62 in just five years.
Australia hasn’t escaped this trend. Here, the richest 10% of people own more wealth than all other Australians combined, and our richest individual has the same amount of wealth as the poorest 10% of Australians.
“The big winners in our global economy are those at the top. Our economic system is heavily skewed in their favour. Far from trickling down, income and wealth are instead being sucked upwards at an alarming rate,” the report says.
This discrepancy undermines growth and social cohesion, Oxfam reports. It cites elaborate tax havens and an industry of wealth managers as part of the problem of the growing inequality.
“One recent estimate is that $7.6 trillion of individual wealth – more than the combined gross domestic product (GDP) of the UK and Germany – is currently held offshore,” the report reads.
“Tax avoidance has rightly been described by the International Bar Association as an abuse of human rights and by the President of the World Bank as ‘a form of corruption that hurts the poor’. There will be no end to the inequality crisis until world leaders end the era of tax havens once and for all.”
A senate inquiry into corporate tax avoidance is due to deliver its report at the end on February 26.
In August last year, former treasurer Joe Hockey listed 30 offshore-based companies the government planned to ensure would pay their fair share of tax in Australia.
Apple, Google, Microsoft, BHP, Rio Tinto and Glencore have all fronted the parliamentary inquiry into tax avoidance.
See the full report here.