TIME Davos

One Stat to Destroy Your Faith in Humanity: The World’s 85 Richest People Own as Much as the 3.5 Billion Poorest

A worker prepares a logo for the World Economic Forum inside the Congress Center ahead of the World Economic Forum 2014 (WEF) meeting in Davos, Switzerland, on Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014.
Bloomberg / Bloomberg via Getty Images A worker prepares a logo for the World Economic Forum inside the Congress Center ahead of the World Economic Forum 2014 (WEF) meeting in Davos, Switzerland, on Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014.

The world’s 85 richest individuals now own as much as the poorest half of the 7 billion global population, according to a report released by Oxfam on Monday.

The leading anti-poverty charity called on the global economic elite gathering in Davos this week for the World Economic Forum to “counter the growing tide of inequality” and prevent a static future in which only the rich have access to the best education and healthcare.

“It is staggering that in the 21st century, half of the world’s population own no more than a tiny elite whose numbers could all sit comfortably in a single train carriage,” said Winnie Byanyima, Oxfam Executive Director.

Working for the Few examines economic inequality’s potential to undercut democracy in developed countries and exacerbate corruption in underdeveloped nations.

The report calls on governments to crackdown on international tax dodgers and invest in public institutions such as healthcare, as well as implement progressive taxes and eradicate opaque political structures that encourage corruption.

While the World Economic Forum in Davos provides the world’s super elite with a forum to discuss the global economy, the group is far from deaf on issues pertaining to inequality. Last November, the WEF warned that financial inequality threatened to undermine social stability and security on a “global scale.”

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