London: The richest 85 people in the world control as much wealth as the poorest half of the global population put together, says a study conducted by Oxfam.
"It is staggering that in the 21st Century, half of the world's population - that's three and a half billion people - own no more than a tiny elite whose numbers could all fit comfortably on a double-decker bus," The Guardian quoted Oxfam executive director Winnie Byanyima as saying in the report entitled 'Working For The Few.'
Oxfam said that those richest 85 people across the globe share a combined wealth of about one trillion pounds and that this is no accident as growing inequality has been driven by a "power grab" by wealthy elites, who have co-opted the political process to rig the rules of the economic system in their favour.
The development charity added that the wealth of the one percent richest people in the world amounts to 60.88 trillion pounds, or 65 times as much as the poorest half of the world. Oxfam fears that this concentration of economic resources is threatening political stability and driving up social tensions. "Widening inequality is creating a vicious circle where wealth and power are increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few, leaving the rest of us to fight over crumbs from the top table," Byanyima was quoted as saying.
Opinion polls conducted by Oxfam in Spain, Brazil, India, South Africa, Britain, the US and Netherlands found that a majority in each country believe that wealthy people exert too much influence. Concern was strongest in Spain, followed by Brazil and India and least marked in the Netherlands.
The study was released Monday as political leaders and top business people prepare to discuss the state of the global economy over four hectic days of meetings, seminars and parties from Jan 22 to 25 at the World Economic Forum in the ski resort of Davos in Switzerland. Oxfam is an international confederation of 17 organisations working in approximately 90 countries to find solutions to poverty and related injustice around the world.