Working for the few: political capture and economic inequality
Eurodad partner Oxfam has launched its latest
briefing paper, entitled “Working
for the few: political capture and economic inequality”. According to the paper,
almost half of the world’s wealth is now owned by just one percent of the
population, and seven out of ten people live in countries where economic
inequality has increased in the last 30 years. The World Economic Forum has
identified economic inequality as a major risk to human progress, impacting
social stability within countries and threatening security on a global scale.
This massive concentration
of economic resources in the hands of fewer people presents a real threat to
inclusive political and economic systems, and compounds other inequalities –
such as those between women and men. Left unchecked, political institutions are
undermined and governments overwhelmingly serve the interests of economic
elites – to the detriment of ordinary people.
Some of Oxfam’s key findings
- Almost half of the world’s wealth is now owned by just
one percent of the population.
- The wealth of the one percent richest people in the
world amounts to $110 trillion. That’s 65 times the total wealth of the bottom
half of the world’s population.
- The bottom half of
the world’s population owns the same as the richest 85 people in the world.
- Seven out of ten people live in countries where economic
inequality has increased in the last 30 years.
- The richest one percent increased their share of income
in 24 out of 26 countries for which we have data between 1980 and 2012.
- In the US, the
wealthiest one percent captured 95 percent of post-financial crisis growth
since 2009, while the bottom 90 percent became poorer.
The report provides a
number of recommendations to those that gathered at Davos for the World
dodge taxes in their own countries or in countries where they invest and
operate, by using tax havens;
use their economic wealth to seek political favors that undermine the
democratic will of their fellow citizens;
public all the investments in companies and trusts for which they are the
ultimate beneficial owners;
progressive taxation on wealth and income;
governments to use their tax revenue to provide universal healthcare, education
and social protection for citizens;
a living wage in all the companies they own or control;
other economic elites to join them in these pledges.
Furthermore, Oxfam has
recommended policies in multiple contexts to strengthen the political
representation of the poor and middle classes to achieve greater equity. These
- A global goal to end extreme
economic inequality in every country. This should be a major element of the
post-2015 framework, including consistent monitoring in every country of the
share of wealth going to the richest one percent.
- Stronger regulation of
markets to promote sustainable and equitable growth; and
- Curbing the power of the
rich to influence political processes and policies that best suit their
- The particular combination
of policies required to reverse rising economic inequalities should be tailored
to each national context. But developing and developed countries that have
successfully reduced economic inequality provide some suggested starting
- Cracking down on financial
secrecy and tax dodging;
- Redistributive transfers;
and strengthening of social protection schemes;
- Investment in universal
access to healthcare and education;
- Progressive taxation;
- Strengthening wage floors
and worker rights;
- Removing the barriers to
equal rights and opportunities for women.
Read the full paper here.