A report published by an international development nongovernmental organization, Oxfam found that the wealth of billionaires globally have increased by an average of 7.4% a year since 2009. In particular, 2019 was another year that reached a new milestone as there was a 25% increase in their wealth with the world’s 500 wealthiest people adding a staggering $1.2 trillion to their wealth. The United States has the highest concentration of billionaires in the world and was the only country to experience growth in its billionaire population with 705 individuals.
According to the report, the 2,153 billionaires in 2019 hold a total of $8.7 trillion, which is more wealth combined than 4.6 billion people globally. This growing trend of extreme wealth is argued as a sign of a failing economic system, especially with inheritance being the cause of approximately a third of billionaire wealth. Additionally, The World Bank also revealed nearly half the world lives on less than $5.50 daily, while the 735 million people who still live in extreme poverty survive on $1.90 or less a day. Another economist supporting this argument, Thomas Piketty, states that the benefits of global growth have not been shared equally. From 1980 to 2016, the poorest 50% received 12 cents of every dollar of global income growth, while the richest 1% got more than double that, with 27 cents of every dollar.
Oxfam’s report aims to promote policy changes for free and universal public services, and for limiting the influence of companies and the superrich. Even the International Monetary Fund that traditionally supported lower taxes has expressed the desire to tackle inequality by raising taxes on the rich. Though it is expected that these changes will take time in countries like the US, fortunately, some governments have decided to take on more progressive policies, such as Uruguay and New Zealand.