The richest 1% of people will control more wealth than the rest of the world combined by 2016, the British anti-poverty charity Oxfam predicted in a new report.
The study suggests that, by next year, the gap between the world's rich and poor will widen so much that those at the top will control more than half of total global wealth.
Oxfam issued the warning ahead of political and corporate leaders converging in Switzerland for the 45th World Economic Forum this week to discuss the world's problems. Heads of state, ministers, chief executives, central bankers, and academics were expected to gather in the Swiss Alps. Oxfam's executive director, Winnie Byanyima, will co-chair this year's forum meeting. She is expected to call on the leaders to address inequality and reach a global compromise on climate change.
A year ago, Oxfam found the wealth of the 85 richest people in the world was equal to the collective wealth of the poorest 3.5 billion people on Earth. The richest 1% of the population — with an estimated worth of $110 trillion — controlled 46% of the world’s entire wealth, at the time the report was published.
The report was released two days after President Barack Obama unveiled his new tax plan, aimed at shifting a wealth imbalance. His proposal, which he will announce during his State of the Union address on Tuesday, would eliminate a loophole that allows wealthy Americans to pass on tax-free assets to their heirs. The higher taxes on the wealthy would be used to increase the incomes of middle- and lower-class families.