Oxfam: Wealth of world’s 10 richest men doubled during pandemic
The wealth of the ten richest men in the world doubled in the first two years of the pandemic, human rights organization Oxfam Novib said in a report. In the same period, over 160 million people fell deeper into poverty. A "dramatic rise and painful break from previous years," the organization said in its annual report on economic inequality.
The organization estimated that the wealth of the ten richest men now stands at $1.5 trillion. Oxfam based this on the Forbes list of billionaires in 2021, which includes Elon Musk (Tesla), Jeff Bezos (ex-Amazon CEO), Bernard Arnault (luxury brands Louis Vuitton Moët Hennesy), Bill Gates (Microsoft), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), and Warren Buffett (top investor). When the pandemic broke out two years ago, they still had a combined wealth of $700 billion. That number increased faster than in the past 14 years and saw "the largest measured increase ever," Oxfam said.
Women and other disadvantaged groups like people of color and LGBTQ+ people are the victims of the pandemic, the organization said. Oxfam already pointed this out in a previous study into the distribution of wealth during the pandemic. Women and girls collectively lost $800 million in income in 2020, Oxfam estimated. They also lost their chance of a job or education.
In the Netherlands too, the gap between the very rich and the majority of the population is significant, according to Oxfam. The combined wealth of the 2,120 richest Dutch people is greater than that of the 10 million poorest.
According to Oxfam, the Netherlands also has a responsibility to tackle the division of rich and poor. "But we hardly see that urgency in the coalition agreement that will be discussed in parliament this week," said Oxfam director Michiel Servaes. "When it comes to international solidarity, tackling tax avoidance, and a fair distribution of vaccines, the ambition really needs to be increased."
Oxfam expects that inequality between countries will increase in the coming period. According to the organization, not temporarily lifting patents on coronavirus vaccines means that people in developing countries have a greater chance of dying from the coronavirus.
Oxfam traditionally publishes the report at the start of the World Economic Forum held virtually this year in the Swiss mountain village of Davos.
Reporting by ANP