The eight richest people in the world have the same wealth as the poorest 50% of the population

Bill and Melinda Gates (credit: Kjetil Ree via Wikipedia)

According to a new report from Oxfam — published in anticipation of the World Economic Forum, which starts tomorrow in Davos, Switzerland — the eight richest men in the world have the same amount of wealth as the bottom 50 percent of the world’s population.

“Left unchecked, growing inequality threatens to pull our societies apart. It increases crime and insecurity, and undermines the fight to end poverty. It leaves more people living in fear and fewer in hope,” the report says, noting that the rise of Donald Trump and the vote for Brexit were likely caused by growing resentment among poorer people who feel left behind by establishment politics.

The eight men who control all that wealth are Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Amancio Ortega, Carlos Slim Helú, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Ellison and Michael Bloomberg. Last year, Oxfam said 62 billionaires owned the same amount of wealth as the bottom 50%, but that number shrunk to eight after it was determined that the world’s poorest were actually poorer than previously thought.

Oxfam blames the world’s stark inequality on a number of causes, namely corporations concerned chiefly with profit-making, wealthy people dodging taxes, companies being more concerned with paying their shareholders than their employees and cronyism. The report estimates that if billionaires’ wealth is left unchecked, we can expect to see a trillionaire in the next 25 years.