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How extreme is inequality? Here are 6 shocking facts


The world is not on track to meet its goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030. In fact, global progress to reduce extreme poverty “has grinded to a halt” over the past few years. We‘re in the middle of the largest increase in global inequality since World War II.

Here are six things to know about the current state of global inequality, including how you can help tackle it now.

1. People with the lowest incomes faced the steepest costs during the pandemic.

Income losses averaged 4% for the poorest 40% of people. That‘s double the losses faced by the wealthiest 20% of people. This caused global inequality to rise for the first time in decades. And COVID-19 pushed 70 million people into extreme poverty in 2020 — the largest single-year increase since 1990.

Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for 60% of all people living in extreme poverty, or 389 million people. The region has the world‘s highest poverty rate: about 35%.

2. Almost 2 billion workers now live in countries where inflation is outpacing wages. 

A shocking 1.7 billion people don‘t have high enough wages to keep up with inflation — and it‘s having major consequences on people‘s lives. Over 820 million people (or about 1 in 10 people) don‘t have sufficient food. Women and girls make up nearly 60% of the world‘s hungry population.

3. The richest 1% of people captured 63% of all new wealth since 2020.

Only 37% of new wealth went to the entire rest of the world population, according to Oxfam. That‘s $26 trillion to the richest 1% … and only $16 trillion to everyone else over the past three years.

Oxfam has more shocking stats on this unequal distribution of wealth:

  • A billionaire gained about $1.7 million for every $1 of new global wealth earned by a person in the bottom 90%.
  • Billionaire fortunes increased by $2.7 billion every day over the past few years.
  • And, this comes after the number and wealth of billionaires doubled over the past 10 years.

4. Many governments are struggling to provide resources to address inequality and are cutting public spending.

Oxfam found that 75% of countries are planning cuts to public sector spending, including on healthcare and education. The cuts could be as high as $7.8 trillion over the next five years around the world.

This is an issue because investments in healthcare and education are some of the most effective ways to tackle poverty and inequality.

5. Worldwide, only four cents of every tax dollar comes from taxes on wealth. 

Taxes on the wealthiest people used to be much higher. But over the past 40 years, governments around the world slashed the income tax rates on the richest. At the same time, governments increased taxes on goods and services, which disproportionately impacts low-income people and exacerbates gender inequality.

6. You can take action to reverse these trends in inequality and demand a more equal world. 

Here are some easy ways to take action now.

  • Check out Oxfam‘s latest report, which explores the current state of inequality and explores the role of taxation in tackling this pressing global issue.
  • Join ONE to make your voice heard. You‘ll receive emails, petitions, campaign updates, and other actions that all focus on demanding those in power tackle poverty, inequality, and other global priorities.
  • To get started, sign our petition demanding more action to address the hunger crisis. Over 40 million people around the world are at risk of famine. We need to increase funding to tackle this humanitarian crisis.
  • Share this article with your networks to make sure your followers are informed. Use the icons below to get started.

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