World's top 1% earn 82% of wealth generated in 2017, says Oxfam

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The research forms part of a global report released to coincide with this week's annual meeting of political and business leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Last year's survey had showed that India's richest 1% held 58% of the country's total wealth, which was higher than the global figure of about 50%.

Globally, 82 percent of the wealth generated past year went to the richest one percent of the global population, while 3.7 billion people that account for the poorest half of the world saw no increase in their wealth, says a new Oxfam report "Reward Work, Not Wealth" released today.

"It takes just four days for a CEO from one of the top five global fashion brands to earn what a Bangladeshi garment worker will earn in her lifetime".

It would cost $2.2 billion a year to increase the wages of all 2.5 million Vietnamese garment workers to a living wage.

Oxfam said that governments should focus on policies that would lead to fairer distribution of wealth and stronger workers' rights.

Oxfam's new report, Reward Work, Not Wealth, is out Monday afternoon.

"The people who make our clothes, assemble our phones and grow our food are being exploited to ensure a steady supply of cheap goods, and swell the profits of corporations and billionaire investors,"said Byanyima".

The recommendations for corporations are far more eyebrow-raising, be it "Limit returns to shareholders and promote a pay ratio for companies' top executives that is no more than 20 times their median employees' pay" or refraining from rewarding shareholders through dividends or buybacks or even paying bonuses to executives until "all their employees have received a living wage".

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Oxfam also emphasised the plight of women workers, who "consistently earn less than men" and often have the lowest paid, least secure jobs.

Graeme Hart, New Zealand's richest man, has increased his fortune by US$3.1 billion in 2017 to US$9.5 billion (up from $US6.4 in 2016).

The data sources for the Oxfam report include Forbes' Billionaire List 2017, World Bank data, and last year's edition of Credit Suisse's Global Wealth Databook, which brings together household balance sheets and survey data from around the world to estimate how wealth is distributed within countries and globally.

"If that means less for the already wealthy then that is a price that we - and they - should be willing to pay", Mr Goldring added, as he pushed for a crackdown on tax avoidance and a revamp of business models that prioritise social benefit over shareholder returns.

In New Zealand, Oxfam's NZ executive director Rachael Le Mesurier said poorer people tend to vote less than others, and that continued income inequality is bad for democracy. Of the 70,000 people surveyed in 10 countries, almost two-thirds of all respondents think the gap between the rich and the poor needs to be urgently addressed.

"It's hard to find a political or business leader who doesn't say they are anxious about inequality".

Oxfam International is calling for governments to ensure economies work for everyone and not just for the fortunate few.

"People in India are ready for change. They want action towards an economy that works for all, development that uplift the billions and not the billionaires alone", said Agrawal.

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