While most of the world continues to live in relative poverty amid the global pandemic, the world's wealthiest people are continuing to grow their fortunes. A new report published by charity organization Oxfam claims that the world's 10 richest men have more than doubled their collective wealth since March 2020.
The report said that while the rich are getting richer, the declining incomes of the world's poorest people have led to the deaths of about 21,000 people each day. The report, which cites data from the World Bank, Credit Suisse's Annual Global Wealth Report, and the Forbes Billionaires list, claims that there are now more than 160 million additional people worldwide that are living on less than $5.50 a day because of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, the report claims that the top 10 richest people - all of whom are men - have grown their collective wealth from $700 billion in March 2020 to now more than $1.5 trillion. The 10 richest men, according to the latest tally by Forbes, are Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Bernard Arnault and family, Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Ballmer, and Warren Buffet.
While their collective wealth may have more than doubled, there is a significant variation between each individual. Elon Musk, the head of Tesla and SpaceX, grew his fortune by more than 1,000% since the start of the pandemic, while Microsoft founder Bill Gates also saw his fortune rise by a relatively modest 30%.
Oxfam GB's chief executive, Danny Sriskandarajah, said in the report that the wealth gap this year is "off the scale." He added that while there are a growing number of billionaires around the world, more than 99% of the population is suffering because of the lockdowns, disruptions in trade, and movement restrictions. Sriskandarajah said the current economic system is "deeply flawed."
The report claims that because of the pandemic, the lack of access to healthcare, diminishing incomes, violence, and climate change, about one death occurs every four seconds around the world.
Apart from reporting on the growing wealth gap, the report also claims that the prolonged pandemic has forced developing countries to cut down on social spending. It also claims that gender equality has been greatly set back, with 13 million fewer women now having work. The report claims that more than 20 million women are now at risk of never returning to school.
The report calls on leaders to enact changes immediately and impose bolder economic strategies. This includes more progressive tax laws, which place more emphasis on capital and wealth. The report also called on countries and corporations to provide more access to COVID-19 vaccine intellectual property rights to increase global production and distribution.