Have you ever stressed over whether to buy the no-name brand of frozen burritos from the supermarket? Is the $4 more for the logo and fancy package really worth it? If so, you'll probably be pretty upset to know that eight of the world's billionaires own as much wealth as half of the entire population of Earth, according to a new report published by Oxfam
The data (which came from Credit Suisse's economic research on wealth distribution in 2016) shows that eight billionaires—totaling a net worth of $426 billion—have as much wealth as 3.6 billion people, who make up the bottom half of the world's economy. Last year, it took 62 of the world's richest to reach that same conclusion.
The eight billionaires, in order of networth, are as follows: Microsoft founder Bill Gates ($75 billion); Fashion business magnate (aka Zara owner) Amancio Ortega ($67 billion); American investor Warren Buffett ($60.8 billion); Mexican businessman Carlos Slim ($50 billion); Amazon head Jeff Bezos ($45.2 billion); Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg ($44.6 billion); Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison ($43.6 billion); and former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg ($40 billion).
The report notes that the transfer of wealth from the bottom half to a very select few is a hard and complex relationship to understand, but offers a few explanations for the ever-widening wealth gap—pointing to an increasingly-stressed global economy, as well as factors such as climate change and war.
"Unlike extreme wealth at the top, which can be observed and documented through various rich lists, we have much less information about the wealth of those at the bottom of the distribution. We do know however, that many people experiencing poverty around the world are seeing an erosion of their main source of wealth—namely land, natural resources and homes – as a consequence of insecure land rights, land grabbing, land fragmentation and erosion, climate change, urban eviction and forced displacement."
According to the report, most of the world's poorest half resides in live in south-eastern portions of the globe, such as India, Africa, and some parts of Asia. Only one percent of that population resides in North America, and almost half of all billionaires are from the continent.
The data also shows that the growing rift between the world's poorest and richest has no borders: in Canada, David Thomson and Galen Weston—two Canadian billionaires with a net worth of $33.1 billion—own as much wealth as one third of the entire country,
Across the globe, women also take the brunt of the blow when it comes to wealth distribution. In countries like Canada, New Zealand, UK and Australia, women make up over 60 percent of the unpaid work force. Women are 90 percent less likely to earn an equal wage as their male counterparts, and compromise a mere 15 to 20 percent of the top income bracket in western countries.
For what it's worth, the richest woman on earth last year—Liliane Bettencourt, the principal owner of L'Oreal—is worth a rock solid $36.1 billion.
"Worldwide, the chances for women to participate in the labour market remain almost 27 percentage points lower than those for men," the report reads. "Once in the labour market, women are more likely than men to be in jobs not protected by labour legislation. In formal jobs, women consistently earn less than men."
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Lead photo via Wikimedia.