The astounding gap between the super-rich and poor is growing even wider.
Last year, 26 people were worth as much as the 3.8 billion poorest people in the world, down from 43 people the year before, according to a new report from anti-poverty nonprofit Oxfam.
Just 1% of the total wealth of the richest man in the world, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos — who’s currently going through a divorce that could slice his fortune in half — is equal to nearly the entire health budget of the African country of Ethiopia, home to 105 million people. Oxfam based this finding on Bezos’ estimated fortune of $112 billion by Forbes last year, which was up to $140 billion on Monday.
The report also found that in the decade since the financial crisis, the number of billionaires has nearly doubled. In the last year alone, the wealth of the world’s billionaires increased by $900 billion, or $2.5 billion a day. But the wealth of the poorest half of the world, 3.8 billion people, fell by 11%.
Oxfam stresses that universal healthcare, education and other public services can reduce the gap between the rich and poor, and between women and men. The nonprofit suggests that, “fairer taxation of the wealthiest can help pay for them.”
“In many countries, while those with money are able to access good healthcare and education, hundreds of millions of ordinary people are denied life-saving health services or are plunged into poverty because they are forced to pay unaffordable fees for their care,” Norwegian politician and former director-general of the World Health Organization Gro Harlem Brundtland wrote in the report. “The burden is particularly felt by women and children, who have high needs for services but the least access to financial resources.”