On the eve of the World Economic Forum in Davos, which brings together the most important economic decision-makers, the NGO Oxfam publishes its traditional report on global inequalities. These inequalities continue to increase, putting hundreds of thousands of people in the streets all over the world. Now, the richest 1% of the world’s population earns twice as much as 92% of the world’s population.
He was, in the space of a few hours, the richest man in the world on 16 December last year. Bernard Arnault, the boss of the LVMH group, has a fortune of 76 billion dollars, making him the richest billionaire in France. The NGO Oxfam, which publishes this Monday January 20 its annual report on global inequalities (1), calculated that if someone had been able to save the equivalent of 8,000 euros a day since the storming of the Bastille – on July 14, 1789 – it would only reach 1% of the famous businessman’s fortune today.
“Indecent inequalities are at the heart of social fractures and conflicts all over the world because no one is fooled: inequalities are not inevitable, they are the result of social and fiscal policies that reduce the participation of the richest in the solidarity effort through taxation, and weaken the financing of public services. Transport, education, health, pension systems… are sacrificed when they are decisive in the fight against poverty”, warns Pauline Leclère, Oxfam France spokesperson.
Income growth too unevenly distributed
But if Bernard Arnault is the one who has amassed the most wealth in the world in 2019, and the dividend payment by the CAC 40 is at its highest, the poverty rate is gaining ground in France with an additional 400,000 people below the poverty line, bringing the number of poor people to 9.8 million. Thus, at the national level, the richest 10% own 50% of the wealth. “Despite high expectations of fiscal and social justice, the poorest remain the big losers from the budgetary measures since the beginning of the five-year period,” stresses Pauline Leclère.
At the global level, the gap is even more staggering, with the richest 1% holding twice the wealth of 92% of the population. According to new World Bank statistics, nearly half of the world’s population is trying to survive on less than five euros a day. “For many people, all it takes is a hospital bill or a bad harvest to slide into poverty,” Oxfam warns. At the other end of the scale, the richest get richer almost “effortlessly”: between 2011 and 2017, dividends paid to shareholders grew by 31% compared to 3% for average salaries in the G7 countries.
Economist Thomas Piketty and his team have shown that between 1980 and 2016, the richest 1% captured 27% of income growth, while the poorest 50% were content with 12%. “We will never be able to eradicate poverty if the economic system continues to distribute the fruits of growth so unevenly. This unjust growth model is also unsustainable within the environmental limits of our planet,” concludes Oxfam.