1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

World's richest five men double wealth — Oxfam

January 15, 2024

Since 2020, billionaire fortunes are up while the wealth of the bottom 60% has declined. Oxfam has urged governments to rein in the "billionaire class."

Billionaire Elon Musk
Elon Musk; CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, and owner of X, is the richest person and the richest man in the worldImage: Alain Jocard/AFP

The world's five wealthiest men have more than doubled their wealth since 2020, while five billion people have been made poorer, according to a new report by British charity Oxfam.

The report, published Monday, comes as the global elite get together at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

The anti-poverty group found that a billionaire is now either running or is the main shareholder of 7 out of 10 of the world's biggest companies..

The combined wealth of the top five richest people in the world – Elon Musk, Bernard Arnault, Jeff Bezos, Larry Ellison, and Mark Zuckerberg – has increased by $464 billion (€423 billion), or 114%, to $869 billion last year.

Gap between rich and poor likely to increase

It estimated that 148 top corporations made $1.8 trillion in profits, 52 percent up on 3-year average, allowing hefty pay-outs to shareholders even as millions of workers faced a cost of living crisis as inflation led to wage cuts in real

"This inequality is no accident; the billionaire class is ensuring corporations deliver more wealth to them at the expense of everyone else," Oxfam International interim Executive Director, Amitabh Behar, said.

Pandemic inequality in Argentina

Yet since 2020, nearly five billion people worldwide, making up 60% of the world population, has declined by 0.2% in real terms, Oxfam said.

To address the imbalance, the charity urged governments to curb corporate power by breaking monopolies, instituting taxes on excess profit and wealth, and promoting alternatives to shareholder control like forms of employee ownership.

"Corporate power is used to drive inequality: by squeezing workers and enriching wealthy shareholders, dodging taxes, and privatizing the state," Oxfam said.

Oxfam's analysis also shows how a "war on taxation" by corporations has seen the effective corporate tax rate fall by roughly a third in the last few decades.

"Around the world, members of the private sector have relentlessly pushed for lower rates, more loopholes, less transparency, and other measures aimed at enabling companies to contribute as little as possible to public coffers," Oxfam said.

dvv/wd (AFP, Reuters)