The world's richest 1% will soon own more than the rest of the world's population, according to a study by charity group Oxfam. As Sonia Legg reports the research was released as many of the world's richest people gather in Davos for the start of the World Economic Forum.
Staggering scenery matched by a staggering statistic - the richest 1% of the world's population could soon own more than everyone else put together. The charity group Oxfam released their research as some of those top earners arrived in Switzerland for the World Economic Forum. Max Lawson is from Oxfam International. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MAX LAWSON, GLOBAL HEAD OF POLICY AND CAMPAIGNS, OXFAM INTERNATIONAL, SAYING: "The clear message that governments should take away from Davos is that they should tax the rich. They should tax rich people and rich corporations, progressively and fairly." Faster growth in emerging markets has led to a drop in global income inequality in many areas. But a select group of super-rich individuals has, at the same time, gained control over a vast amount of the world's material wealth. 37 million adults are in the top tier (1%) of global wealth holders. They each average wealth of $2.7m And together they own more than 48 percent (48.2%) of the world's total wealth. The trend has been rising since 2010. If it persists Oxfam believes the figure is likely to top 50 percent (50%) by next year. Most of the wealth also remains concentrated in the United States and Europe (77% from U.S. and Europe), even though emerging economies now produce greater output. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MAX LAWSON, GLOBAL HEAD OF POLICY AND CAMPAIGNS, OXFAM INTERNATIONAL, SAYING: "There is a big debate to be had. We think we have to take that debate to Davos, to the billionaires of the world because let's face it, what kind of world do they want to live in? Do they want to live in a world where they have to be scared to walk down the street, where they have to live behind barbed wire?" Tackling inequality is close to the heart of many delegates at Davos. Professor Klaus Schwab is the Forum's Founder and Executive Chairman. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PROFESSOR KLAUS SCHWAB, FOUNDER AND EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN OF THE WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM (WEF), SAYING: "We push this issue of social inclusion being environmentally and socially more sustainable in our economic and in our policies, business policies. I myself have written a lot about it. I think we consider ourselves together with Oxfam pioneer in making this issue known." The study comes as President Obama prepares to make his State of the Union address miles away from Davos. But one of his key messages is expected to be a call for tax increases on the wealthy to help the middles classes.