ONE of the most shocking reports of recent times regarding the vast and growing gap between the rich and poor was produced by the UK charity organisation, Oxfam, in January this year.

The report revealed that 62 of the richest billionaires own as much wealth as the poorer half of the world’s population – that is 3.6 billion people.

Furthermore, Oxfam noted that while wealth in the hands of 3.6 billion people – had fallen by a trillion dollars since 2010, the wealth of the richest 62 had increased by more than half a trillion dollars to $1.76 trillion. Only nine women are among the 62 wealthiest billionaires.

In its report Oxfam called for urgent action to tackle the inequality crisis. It recommended a crack down on tax dodging, increased investment in public services and action to boost the income of the lowest paid.

As a priority, Oxfam called for an end to the era of tax havens which is one of the loop holes used by rich individuals and companies to avoid paying their fair share of taxes, which governments need to tackle poverty and inequality.

Meanwhile, a recently published map of the world’s billionaires gives a breakdown of the origins of the wealth. Red indicates inherited wealth. Green indicates that company founders were instrumental to the creation of the wealth while blue stands for the executive status of the individuals.

Political connections and resource related wealth is indicated in orange, while riches derived from the financial sector are indicated in yellow.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates leads the pack of USA billionaires which number 536 out of a total of 1,826 around the world. China, with 213 billionaires is second and the wealthiest individual in that country is Wang Jianlin.

India has 111 billionaires, Germany 103, Russia 88, Hong Kong 55, Brazil 54, UK 53, France 47 followed by Canada with 39.

Egypt, with eight billionaires, tops the list in Africa. South Africa is close second with 7, followed by Nigeria (5), Morocco (3), Tanzania (3) Algeria (1), Angola (1), Swaziland (1) and Uganda (1).

Interestingly, in the US, almost 30% of the billionaires inherited their money whereas in the UK most of the mega wealthy worked their way to the top.

  • Inherited – red
  • Company founders – green
  • Executives – blue
  • Political connections and resource related – orange
  • Financial sector – yellow