Global wealth inequality widened in 2 years since beginning of pandemic: Oxfam International Report

Why the rich get richer and also so fast is the question

By DTE Staff
Published: Wednesday 08 June 2022

In 24 months since the pandemic struck in 2020, the wealth of the world’s billionaires increased more than the combined growth of nearly two preceding years, according to the new Oxfam report. Some 573 new billionaires have been added in the last two years.

Corporations in the energy, food and pharmaceutical sectors — the three sectors in which the world faces crises — have recorded the maximum profits in their lifetimes.

There are 62 new billionaires in the food sector. For the billionaires in the food and energy sectors, the last two years have been a bonanza: A wealth increase of $1 billion every two days.

The top five energy companies — BP, Shell, Total Energies, Exxon and Chevron — made a daily profit of $2,600 every second as the world remained under lockdowns and extreme economic stress. 

The pandemic has also created 40 new “pharma” billionaires. Pharmaceutical corporations like Moderna and Pfizer are making $1,000 profit every second just from their monopoly control of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The non-profit Oxfam International released its wealth generation and distribution report titled ‘Profiting from Pain’ just prior to the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos. Analysing wealth creation in the last two years – the pandemic period – Oxfam International found that every crisis that has struck this planet has hugely profited certain people, while hitting harder the already poor and pushing those in the margins to poverty trap. 

High food prices, health cost, loss of livelihood and the overall dip in earnings will push at least 263 million into poverty in 2022. That is at a rate of a million people every 33 hours.

Wages in the three sectors that profited the most have not increased at all. The burden of the crises is felt by the poor and the people in the margin.

To put it in perspective, the inequality is beyond comprehension and it has deepened during the pandemic like never before. For instance, according to Oxfam International, the top 10 richest persons in the world have more wealth than that of 3.1 billion people combined, or the total income of the bottom 40 percent of humanity.

The poor will never be able to reach the yearly earnings of the rich in their lifetime. Oxfam’s calculation showed that it would take 112 years for a worker in the bottom 50 percent to earn what a person in the top 1 per cent gets in a single year.

Why do the poor become poorer? It is no longer the question. Rather, why the rich get richer and also so fast is the question.

Last year, the World Inequality Report 2022 termed India as the most unequal country.  Lucas Chancel, the lead author of the World Inequality Report 2022, said over 50 per cent of India’s population is without any significant wealth at all. He put this at the core of a widening inequality in the country.

An Indian earning a monthly wage of Rs 25,000 is among the top 10 percent of earners in the country.

If an amount like this comes in the top 10 percentile, then the bottom-most condition cannot be imagined.

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