• Monday, Feb 17, 2020
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World’s 2,153 billionaires have more wealth than 4.6bn people

  • Published at 03:40 pm January 20th, 2020
Bigstock-rich-poor
Bigstock

'It is important for us to underscore that the hidden engine of the economy that we see is really the unpaid care work of women'

The world's richest 2,153 people controlled more money than the poorest 4.6 billion combined in 2019, while unpaid or underpaid work by women and girls adds three times more to the global economy each year than the technology industry, Oxfam said yesterday.

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 in an appeal to the Davos elite to get serious about inequality.

The Nairobi-headquartered charity said in a report released ahead of the annual World Economic Forum of political and business leaders in Davos, Switzerland, that women around the world work 12.5 billion hours combined each day without pay or recognition.

In its "Time to Care" report, Oxfam said it estimated that unpaid care work by women added at least $10.8 trillion a year in value to the world economy - three times more than the tech industry.

"It is important for us to underscore that the hidden engine of the economy that we see is really the unpaid care work of women. And that needs to change," Amitabh Behar, CEO of Oxfam India, told Reuters in an interview.

There will be at least 119 billionaires worth about $500 billion attending Davos this year, Bloomberg reported, 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.

A combination photo shows (top, left to right) Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Jeff Bezos, Amancio Ortega, (bottom, left to right) Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Ellison, Carlos Slim and Michael Bloomberg /Reuters"Their wealth is already extreme, and our broken economy concentrates more and more wealth into these few hands," it said.

Oxfam's annual report on global inequality is traditionally released just before the forum opens Today in the Swiss Alpine resort.

Startling stats

It had some astonishing statistics.

If the world's richest 1% paid just 0.5% 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 said.  

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

"Across the globe, 42% of women cannot get jobs because they are responsible for all the caregiving, compared to just 6% of men," Oxfam figures showed.

The report called on world governments to "build a human economy that is feminist and values what truly matters to society, rather than fuelling an endless pursuit of profit and wealth."