82 percent of the wealth generated last year went to the richest 1 percent of the global population, while the poorer half of the world's population saw no average increase in wealth, according to a new Oxfam report.
Titled 'Reward Work, Not Wealth,' the report illustrates a world economy in which hundreds of thousands struggle to earn a living wage, in comparison to a few who earn more than they need:
● Billionaire wealth has risen by an annual average of 13 percent since 2010 – six times faster than the wages of ordinary workers, which have risen by a yearly average of just 2 percent. The number of billionaires rose at an unprecedented rate of one every two days between March 2016 and March 2017.
● It takes just four days for a CEO from one of the top five global fashion brands to earn what a Bangladeshi garment worker will earn in her lifetime.
● It would cost $2.2 billion a year to increase the wages of all 2.5 million Vietnamese garment workers to a living wage. This is about a third of the amount paid out to wealthy shareholders by the top 5 companies in the garment sector in 2016.
(Source: Oxfam International, "Reward Work, Not Wealth," January 22, 2018)
Oxfam’s report outlines key factors that drives this economic trend. They include the erosion of workers’ rights, the excessive influence of big businesses over government policy-making, and the incentive for corporations to minimize labor costs.
Women workers often find themselves off at the bottom of the heap. Across the world, women consistently earn less than men, and are usually in the lowest paid and least secure forms of work. By comparison, 9 out of 10 billionaires are men.
As a means to deal with the exacerbating wage gap, Oxfam recommends that governments should implement the following three steps:
● Enable all workers to receive a minimum ‘living’ wage that would enable them to have a decent quality of life.
● Eliminate the gender pay gap and protect the rights of women workers. At current rates of change, it will take 217 years to close the gap in pay and employment opportunities between women and men.
● Increase taxes for the wealthy and crack down on tax evasion. Oxfam estimates a global tax of 1.5 percent on billionaires’ wealth could pay for every child to go to school.