The News Minute | January 19, 2015 | 4:25 pm IST
The combined wealth of the richest one percent will overtake that of the other 99 percent of people next year unless the current trend of rising inequality is checked, said a report issued by charity group Oxfam.
The report was issued on Monday ahead of the annual World Economic Forum meeting in Davos.
Oxfam is an international confederation of 17 organisations working in approximately 94 countries world wide to find solutions to poverty and what it considers as injustice around the world. It was founded in 1942 in Britain.
The international agency, whose executive director Winnie Byanyima will co-chair the Davos event, warned that the explosion in inequality is holding back the fight against global poverty at a time when one in nine people do not have enough to eat and more than a billion people still live on less than $1.25 a day.
Top political and business leaders from around the world take part in the annual Davos summit.
Byanyima will call for urgent action to stem this rising tide of inequality, starting with a crackdown on tax dodging by corporations, and to push for progress towards a global deal on climate change.
The richest one percent have seen their share of global wealth increase from 44 percent in 2009 to 48 percent in 2014 and this rate will be more than 50 percent in 2016, said the report.
Members of this global elite had an average wealth of $2.7 million per adult in 2014.
Of the remaining 52 percent of global wealth, almost all (46 percent) is owned by the rest of the richest fifth of the world's population. The other 80 percent share just 5.5 percent and had an average wealth of $3,851 per adult - that's 1/700th of the average wealth of the 1 percent.
"The scale of global inequality is quite simply staggering and despite the issues shooting up the global agenda, the gap between the richest and the rest is widening fast," said Byanyima.
"Business as usual for the elite isn't a cost free option - failure to tackle inequality will set the fight against poverty back decades. The poor are hurt twice by rising inequality - they get a smaller share of the economic pie and because extreme inequality hurts growth, there is less pie to be shared around."
Oxfam made headlines at Davos last year with the revelation that the 85 richest people on the planet have the same wealth as the poorest 50 percent (3.5 billion people). That figure is now 80 - a dramatic fall from 388 people in 2010. The wealth of the richest 80 doubled in cash terms between 2009-14.