The world’s five wealthiest men have more than doubled their fortunes since 2020, as a spate of global crises has widened the gap between the rich and the poor, the international charity organization Oxfam said in a report on Monday.
Oxfam published the report as global dignitaries, from political elites to business leaders, gathered in Davos for the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF). The Oxfam report said that billionaires worldwide are 34 percent richer than they were in 2020, “with their wealth growing three times as fast as the rate of inflation.” Meanwhile, about five billion people around the world have become poorer since 2020, plagued by a slew of global crises including the COVID-19 pandemic, inflation, geopolitical conflicts and extreme weather, according to the report. Large and wealthy firms, like the super-rich, have also experienced “prosperity like never before.” The report showed that 148 of the world’s biggest corporations together raked in 1.8 trillion U.S. dollars in total profits in the 12 months leading up to June 2023, “an 89-percent jump compared to average total profits in 2017-2020.”
Economic disparities between the Global North and Global South as well as between men and women are also growing. Countries in the Global North, while representing 21 percent of the global population, own 69 percent of global wealth. Globally, men own 105 trillion U.S. dollars more wealth than women, according to the report. Oxfam attributed the widening wealth gap to rising corporate and monopoly power, saying that “huge corporations are using their power to drive down wages, dodge paying their fair share in taxes and influence governments to privatize vital public services like healthcare and education.” “Such unbridled power exploits and magnifies economic, gender and racial inequalities, and is hastening climate breakdown,” the Oxfam report said. The charity organization called for “a reimagined, human-centered economic model” to address the growing economic inequality, saying efforts should be made to lift people out of poverty and increase equality at both national and global levels.