The world’s ten wealthiest people have more than doubled their fortunes since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, with their combined net worth skyrocketing at the rate of $1.3 billion per day, according to a new report released by anti-poverty NGO Oxfam on Jan. 17.
The report, called “Inequality Kills,” says that over the first two years of the pandemic, the fortunes of the world’s ten richest people have rapidly grown, from $700 billion to an astonishing $1.5 trillion.
At the same time, 99 percent of the world’s population saw their incomes plummet, and over 160 million people globally plunged into poverty.
Even if the world’s top ten richest lost as much as 99.999 percent of their wealth, they would still be significantly wealthier than the rest of the world’s population, said Oxfam International’s Executive Director Gabriela Bucher.
Bucher added that the top ten billionaires had six times more wealth more than 3.1 billion of the world’s poorest people.
The pandemic served as the catalyst to catapult billionaire wealth to levels higher than in the past 14 years – the biggest wealth increase on record.
According to Bucher, the pandemic experience was “terrific” for the top 10 billionaires. “Central banks pumped trillions of dollars into financial markets to save the economy,” said Bucher.
“Yet much of that has ended up lining the pockets of billionaires riding a stock market boom.”
In order to tackle this extreme inequality, Oxfam recommends introducing a permanent higher wealth and capital tax for billionaires and the world's most profitable companies. The money from this tax could be invested into healthcare and welfare policies.
Oxfam also urges governments to waive the intellectual property rights on COVID-19 vaccine technologies, as well as put in place more firm legal standards to protect workers’ rights.
“Inequality Kills” uses information from the 2021 Forbes billionaire ranking, as well as data provided by Credit Suisse and the World Bank.