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Richest 1 percent own half the world's wealth: 'Working for the Few' reveals gap

The richest 1 percent own half the world’s wealth might come as a surprise to many around the globe, but a new study published this week reveals that almost half of all the wealth there is indeed in the hands of a single percent of the total planet’s population. The report has been titled “Working for the Few,” and reveals in this breakthrough finding that the gap between the rich and the poor not only continues to increase, but has led to such an income disparity that there is wonder if it can ever be bridged. KEN5 News discusses what this massive money inequality study means for the public this Monday, Jan. 20, 2014.

Piles of money, wealth owned by richest 1 percent
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

“Working for the Few” highlights numerous economic facts across the globe, but the biggest finding — that the richest 1 percent own half of the world’s total wealth — might just be most shocking of all. Oxfam, a development charity organization, has found that roughly the $110 trillion in accumulated wealth of these 1 percent most affluent people is over 65 times the amount of all those who live in the “bottom half” in terms of the world’s “financial” population.

This “bottom half” is said to only own a roughly equivalent amount as the top 85 richest people in the whole world, while the wealthiest individuals are said to have gathered all of their money in nearly all of the 26 countries that were surveyed for the international economic study between just 1980 and 2012. The research did take in part statistics taken from Forbes’ billionaires list and the Credit Suisse’s World Health report.

According to the press release on the “richest 1 percent half the world” headline, this gap is so tremendous that it is hard for the human mind to even fathom in practical ways. Such an income disparity also raises the question as to how we can work to bridge or curb such a widening gap.

"In the last 30 thirty years seven out of 10 people have been living in countries where economic inequality has increased," Nick Galasso, one of the co-authors of the study, told USA TODAY. "This a trend that has been unfolding globally for the last two or three decades. What we've not seen is any political will toward curbing it."

U.S. President Barack Obama has also mentioned this increasing economic inequality as a major issue of the century, and noted in a political speech just last year that the income disparity here in the nation alone "challenges the very essence of who we are as a people."

“In the U.S., the financially privileged — the wealthiest 1 percent — have captured 95 percent of post-financial crisis growth since 2009, while the bottom 90 percent became poorer," the Oxfam report notes.

Having the richest 1 percent own half of the world’s wealth also brings to light the realization that it is through the work of a majority of these people in the “bottom half” of the money making spectrum that these billionaires and even trillionaires have accumulated such a massive fortune. Such a large amount of finances in so few hands could also pose a threat, concludes the “Working for the Few” study.

"This massive concentration of economic resources in the hands of fewer people presents a significant threat to inclusive political and economic systems. Instead of moving forward together, people are increasingly separated by economic and political power, inevitably heightening social tensions and increasing the risk of societal breakdown.”

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