Just 85 people earn half the entire world's wealth

THE GLOBE's 85 richest people earn up to half the entire wealth of the world's population, analysis by Oxfam has found.

The analysis of income and wealth around the world found some 85 people own the equivalent wealth of half of the globe's population.

It followed a report by the World Economic Forum in November last year which listed "widening income disparity" as the second greatest economic risk for the next 18 months.

The Oxfam analysis, which reinforces research in recent years pointing towards the "rich 1%" owning half the world's wealth.

It found the overall wealth of the richest 1% equalled $110 trillion, or about 65 times the total wealth of the bottom half of the globe's population.

Oxfam Australia chief Dr Helen Szoke said the findings were "staggering", allowed the richest people to "undermine democratic processes and drive policies that promoted their interests at the expense of everyone else".

"In developed and developing countries alike, the lowest tax rates, the best health and education and the opportunity to influence are being given to the rich and their children," Dr Szoke said.

"The impact of extreme inequality is most keenly felt in developing countries where missing out means remaining trapped in the cycle of extreme poverty. But such deep inequality is not inevitable, and it can and must be reversed quickly."

The report also estimated up to $21 trillion was held in unrecorded "offshore" tax havens, free from the tax rates of larger developed countries.

"This network of secrecy and low tax rates facilitates the illicit flows of large amounts of capital from the poorest countries," Dr Szoke said.

"It is estimated that between 2008 and 2010, sub-Saharan Africa lost on average $72 billion (US $63.4 bn) dollars this way each year, or more than twice what it received in aid."

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