The Global 1%

Via the BBC:  Richest 1% to own more than rest of world, Oxfam says

The wealthiest 1% will soon own more than the rest of the world’s population, according to a study by anti-poverty charity Oxfam.

The charity’s research shows that the share of the world’s wealth owned by the richest 1% increased from 44% in 2009 to 48% last year.

On current trends, Oxfam says it expects the wealthiest 1% to own more than 50% of the world’s wealth by 2016.


The charity said the research, published on Monday, showed that 52% of global wealth not owned by the richest 1% is owned by those in the richest 20%.

The remaining population accounts for just 5.5% of global wealth, and their average wealth was $3,851 (£2,544) per adult in 2014, Oxfam found.

That compares with an average wealth of $2.7m per adult for the elite 1%.

More specifics:

The data excludes wages or income.

The BBC’s head of statistics, Anthony Reuben, said in order to be part of the wealthiest 1% of the world’s population, an individual would need to be worth just over half a million pounds.

“So it is not necessarily talking about people who own yachts and ski chalets. Owning an average house in London (without a mortgage) would just about put you in the 1%. ”

He also noted that Oxfam had chosen to use figures which showed the disparity between the 1% and the rest of the world in the worst light.

“From 2000 until 2009, the proportion of wealth held by the wealthiest 1% fell every year. From 2010 until 2014 it rose every year. Oxfam has taken the figures since 2010 and used them to extrapolate what will happen in the coming years. Clearly, that is the methodology that will make inequality look the most severe,” he added.

Also at the link:  the obligatory list of really, really rich dudes.


FILED UNDER: World Politics, , , , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. stonetools says:

    That wealth will start trickling down any moment now…

  2. Scott F. says:

    The long promised Trickle Down should start in earnest in 3…2…1…

  3. Scott F. says:



  4. Dave Schuler says:

    So, they’re talking about the owners of median-valued homes in most of the San Francisco area, Orange County, and Santa Cruz County. Not Cook County, Illinois but maybe Queens, NY.

    Not what most of us would think of as “the rich” but it’s good to know.

  5. Pinky says:

    Remarkable Declines in Global Poverty, But Major Challenges Remain

    “The number of people living on less than $1.25 per day has decreased dramatically in the past three decades, from half the citizens in the developing world in 1981 to 21 percent in 2010, despite a 59 percent increase in the developing world population.”

  6. superdestroyer says:

    All one has to do is look at birthrates for poor countries to see why. What is amazing is that Europe has pursued a policy (however unintentially) of lower birthrates for the wealth and more assortative mating. It would make sense that wealth would flow to that group rather to children in Pakistan, India, Indonesia, Brazil, or South Africa.

  7. JKB says:

    A low-pressure demography means that a society avoids the situation where extra resources are automatically absorbed by population expansion. As Malthus argued, the only force strong enough to stand against the biological desire to mate and have children, was the even stronger social desire to live comfortably and avoid poverty. This is exactly what seems to have happened in England from at least the late medieval period.

    It was until recently thought that before the nineteenth century England must have been filled with young marriages and large families, a pre-modern demography. Now thanks to Wrigley and his colleagues we know that the modern demographic pattern of relatively low fertility and mortality goes back to at least the early sixteenth century. Literary and other evidence suggests that, in fact, the English have always had this ‘modern’ demography. In the absence of any familistic production system since the Anglo-Saxon period, there seems to have been a ‘modern’ marriage system. There was an institutionalized individual choice pattern which encouraged people to wait for marriage, rather than a system of arranged marriage at an early age as in India, much of China or in Islamic civilizations.

    Join the modern world or be poor. But that would be promoting cultural colonialism and we can’t have others around the world adopting the evil capitalist, individualist system that has brought wealth to those beyond the dictator/king, cronies, religious leaders, clan leaders, racial leaders, etc. as was prevalent in the pre-modern world.

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @stonetools: @Scott F.: Oh, something’s been trickling down alright.

  9. ernieyeball says:

    As for the 1% or the 10% or the smart folks who lived in San Francisco in 1974 and unlike me, stayed there and bought one of those homes and still owns it, now and then I think I’d like to be right there with them.
    But it doesn’t take much to realize that my 1977 model 14×60 trailer house (paid for) with two flush toilets and a high speed DSL connection, a 2003 F-150 and ’13 Ford Fusion (both of them are running…today anyway) in the front yard is truly living the High Life compared to a lot of folks in this world.

    It is very difficult to determine how many homeless people there are in the world because countries have different legal definitions for homelessness. Natural disasters and sudden civil unrest also complicate the picture. The best we have is a conservative estimate from the United Nations in 2005, which puts the number of homeless at 100 million.

    Lack of access to clean water and sanitation kills children at a rate equivalent of a jumbo jet crashing every four hours.

    World Population Without Electricity 1,317,000,000

  10. @Dave Schuler:

    Someone earning full time minimum wage in the US ($15k / year) is in the top 11% of global income. I’m not sure looking at income distribution on an international level is a useful starting point for discussion.

  11. Pinky says:

    @Stormy Dragon: But this whole article is about worldwide income distribution.

  12. PJ says:

    I find the the fact that the 80 richest soon will have as much wealth as the poorest 50% a lot more interesting, and disturbing. The poorest 50% will then be about 3.7 billion people.

    This isn’t sustainable and there will be some sort of a correction. Question is if those at the top will see what’s coming and do it voluntarily or if they won’t.

  13. @Pinky:

    Yes, and if your starting point is worldwide income, then you’re basically forced into a position that 85% of the US is rich and that most of the American “poor” should be facing massive tax increases so that the resulting money can be given to the real poor in Africa and Asia.

    This is so far outside the realm of the possible that I don’t think it’s a useful dicussion.

  14. Pinky says:

    @PJ: What would make it unsustainable?

  15. ernieyeball says:

    @PJ:.. there will be some sort of a correction.
    WikiP lists 61 peasant revolts. From the Dazexiang Uprising in 209 bc to 1970’s Thiland. For all those corpses littering the globe over 2200+ years only 2 were successful. The first one and one in India that ended a few years after I was born.
    Given these odds and given that you have now stuck your neck out and are predicting the future (…there will be…) please be more specific and give us the who, where, what, why and more specifically the when of your prophesy.
    What followed in the wake of the 14 October 1973 movement were mass protests by farmers and their allies such as students and professional classes who challenged the ruling elite to improve the lives of farmers.[1] The revolt antagonized landowners and state officials. In response, activists were harassed and worse was to follow. Between March 1974 and September 1979, 21 FTT leaders were assassinated with the killings concentrated in the Chiang Mai region.[2] The assassination of FTT leaders created an environment of pervasive fear in the countryside and ended the revolutionary efforts of the FTT.

  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Yes, the rich will get richer and the poor will get… Well, you know what they will get. Meanwhile, the rest of us will get better excuses.

  17. Pinky says:


    and the poor will get…

    steadily richer, with better access to food, health care, and education. Not to say we can’t mess things up – historically, we always do – but we’re doing better than ever. We’ve had a couple of threads lately about this, how calamity is being oversold in the press.

  18. al-Ameda says:

    I don’t think tax cuts have been given a fair chance.

  19. DrDaveT says:

    The data excludes wages or income.

    No. The data are about wealth, not wages or income. Presumably wages and income are accounted for to the extent that they affect, you know, wealth.

  20. DrDaveT says:


    But this whole article is about worldwide income distribution.

    No, it isn’t. It’s about worldwide wealth distribution. If you’re not clear on the difference, you could look it up.

  21. Hal_10000 says:

    I’ve seen some arguments that OxFam’s analysis is bogus. It does seem to churn up some very odd results, I must say.

  22. Guarneri says:

    Is Pres Obama going to excoriate central bankers tomorrow night? Didn’t think so.

  23. Pinky says:

    @DrDaveT: You’re right; I messed up. So did Stormy, who I was replying to. (I also probably just messed up who/whom.)

  24. @Pinky:

    Even if you switch to wealth instead of income, you get a similar result where even people who would be considered extremely poor by American standards qualify as wealthy by global standards. The exact numbers change, but the general point does not.

  25. Pinky says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Agreed.

  26. grumpy realist says:

    @ernieyeball: Given that Wikipedia doesn’t have the Sicilian Vespers mentioned, I’m not too impressed with their list.

    (That one won, by the way.)

  27. ernieyeball says:

    @grumpy realist: . I’m not too impressed with their list.

    I can find a WikiP entry for Sicilian Vespers. Don’t know why it is not on the Peasants Revolt page. Maybe there are scales of butchery, bloodletting and disembowelment in play here that we know nothing about.