Number of billionaires doubled in a decade

AFP
The number of billionaires has doubled in the past decade and the world's 22 richest men now have more wealth than all the women in Africa.
AFP
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The number of billionaires has doubled in the past decade and the world’s 22 richest men now have more wealth than all the women in Africa, Oxfam said on Monday in an appeal to the Davos elite to get serious about inequality.

“Our broken economies are lining the pockets of billionaires and big business at the expense of ordinary men and women. No wonder people are starting to question whether billionaires should even exist,” Oxfam’s India head Amitabh Behar said.

“Women and girls are among those who benefit least from today’s economic system,” Behar said ahead of the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, where he will represent Oxfam.

There will be at least 119 billionaires worth about US$500 billion attending Davos this year, with the highest contingents coming from the United States, India and Russia.

“The very top of the economic pyramid sees trillions of dollars of wealth in the hands of a very small group of people, predominantly men,” the Oxfam report said.

“Their wealth is already extreme and our broken economy concentrates more and more wealth into these few hands.”

Women and girls put in 12.5 billion hours of unpaid care work each and every day, estimated to be worth at least US$10.8 trillion a year.

Oxfam’s annual report on global inequality is traditionally released just before the forum opens at the Swiss Alpine resort. This year’s forum opens today.

It had some astonishing statistics.

If the world’s richest 1 percent paid just 0.5 percent extra tax on their wealth for 10 years, it would equal the investment needed to create 117 million new jobs in elderly and child care, education and health.

Oxfam’s figures are based on data from Forbes magazine and Swiss bank Credit Suisse, but they are disputed by some economists.

The numbers show 2,153 billionaires now have more wealth than the 4.6 billion poorest people on the planet.

Women and girls are burdened in particular because they are most often caregivers that keep “the wheels of our economies, businesses and societies moving,” Behar said.

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