Just eight men hold the same amount of wealth as the poorest half of humanity, according to new data compiled by Oxfam.
Released to coincide with the annual World Economic Forum meeting of political and business leaders in Davos, Switzerland, and the impending inauguration of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, Oxfam said that new and better data on global wealth distribution indicates that the poorest half of the world’s population—more than 3.6 billion people—has less wealth than previously thought. Better data has improved numbers from India and China in particular, it said.
Oxfam based its calculations on global wealth distribution data from the Credit Suisse 2016 Global Wealth Databook, while the Forbes billionaires list, last published in March 2016, provided data on the world’s wealthiest people. Paul O’Brien, vice president for policy and campaigns, called the numbers “mind-boggling” and the “sobering reality of 2017” in a statement on Sunday.
The eight richest men in the world—Bill Gates, Amancio Ortega, Warren Buffett, Carlos Slim Helu, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Ellison and Michael Bloomberg—have a combined net worth of more than $426 billion, according to Forbes data.
The report shows “that the gap between rich and poor is far greater than had previously been estimated and details how big business and the super-rich are fueling the inequality crisis by dodging taxes, driving down wages and using their power to influence politics,” Oxfam said in a statement.
The election of Trump in November 2016 has further highlighted wealth disparities in the U.S., said Oxfam. Multi-billionaire Trump takes office at a time when the top 1 percent of American society control 42 percent of the country’s wealth. (Some studies say the latter figure is much lower.) Oxfam said it’s concerned by proposals by Trump and some members of Congress to give large tax cuts to the wealthy; remove worker protections and punish refugees and immigrants coming to the U.S.
“Oxfam is also concerned that to lead the agencies that protect workers, the environment and human rights, President-elect Trump has nominated individuals who have spent their careers attacking the rules, undermining protections and resisting progress,” the organization said.
Ahead of the 2016 Davos conference, Oxfam released a report stating that 62 people had as much combined wealth as the poorest half of humanity in 2015. Utilizing the new data, released on Sunday, shows that nine billionaires, not 62, would have had the equal amount of wealth as half the world’s population that year.