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Commentary :: Globalization : International
Half the world has 1% while 1% has half the world’s wealth
21 Oct 2013
In contrast to the struggles of working people, the world’s billionaires added more than $11 trillion to their collective wealth in the past year.
To say inequality is rampant on a global scale is to say the Sun is a tad warm. Forget pyramids; the global distribution of wealth is better represented by a needle reaching into the stratosphere.

Not simply an anecdote, the common saying that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer has been given fresh evidence from two studies by organizations not known for their sympathies toward the wretched of the Earth.

One, from one of the world’s biggest investment banks, Credit Suisse, reports that the world’s richest one percent possesses nearly half of the world’s wealth while half of humanity holds one percent. The other study, issued by the World Bank, estimates that 1.2 billion* people are in “extreme poverty” — defined as earnings of US$1.25 per day. What is perhaps most remarkable about the World Bank report is the minuscule redistribution that would be required to eradicate “extreme poverty.” The report, “State of the Poor,” says:

“Suppose that the real GDP growth for the developing world as a whole is 5 percent per year. If 10 percent of this GDP growth accrued to the 21 percent of the developing world’s population who are extremely poor, and this 10 percent was distributed in a way that the growth in income of each poor person was exactly his/her distance to the $1.25 line, extreme poverty would end in one year.”

In other words, redistributing 10 percent of economic growth in poor countries themselves — before any assistance from the developed world — would be sufficient to lift all the world’s poorest people, at least to a less severe poverty.

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