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World's 85 richest people own wealth of 3.5b people

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Published : 2014-01-22 13:39
Updated : 2014-01-22 14:30

The world’s richest 85 people own as much as the poorest 3.5 billion, a report released by Oxfam showed.

The British-founded charity’s study dubbed “Working for the Few” pointed out that the richest 1 percent has a $110 trillion fortune -- equivalent to some 65 times the total wealth of half of the entire population on the planet.

“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’s executive director.

The director warned that the growing income disparity will hinder democracy from being realized in developed countries while aggravating corruption in developing countries.

Oxfam called on the business and political leaders gathered at this week’s World Economic Forum to take a personal pledge to tackle the problem by refraining from dodging taxes or seeking political favors using their wealth.

The study aimed at wealthy elites cautioned them about making a “power grab,” urging them to make sure others also have access to the best education and health systems of the community.

“Widening inequality is creating a vicious circle where wealth and power are increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few, leaving the rest of us to fight over crumbs from the top table,” Byanyima said. Last November, the WEF had forewarned that financial inequality is threatening to undermine social stability and security on a “global scale.”

By Yoon Ha-youn and news reports (yhayoun@heraldcorp.com)

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