Pandemic made rich richer, poor poorer – study
The share of wealth owned by the world’s super-rich soared during the coronavirus pandemic, while 100 million people sank into extreme poverty, a major study has found.
According to the World Inequality Report, released on Tuesday, the top 1% took 38% of all additional wealth accumulated since the mid-1990s, whereas the bottom 50% captured just 2% of it.
It also said that the world’s 2,755 billionaires collectively own 3.5% of global household wealth this year, up from slightly above 2% at the start of the pandemic in early 2020.
“The Covid crisis has exacerbated inequalities between the very wealthy and the rest of the population,” lead author Lucas Chancel said, adding that rich economies used massive fiscal support to mitigate the sharp rises in poverty seen elsewhere.
The richest 10% of the population now takes 52% of global income and the poorest half just 8%, the study showed. Some super-rich have benefited from the shift online of much of the world’s economy during Covid-19 lockdowns, while others simply gained from rising asset prices.
“Since wealth is a major source of future economic gains, and increasingly, of power and influence, this presages further increases in inequality,” the study says, describing the current state of events as an “extreme concentration of economic power in the hands of a very small minority of the super-rich.”
Europe was named the world’s most equal region, with the richest 10% taking 36% of the income share. The Middle East and North Africa was the most unequal, with the wealthiest 10% taking 58% of income.
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