Eighty-Five People Own Half the World’s Wealth

by James Hendrickson on January 20, 2014 · 7 comments

world's wealth, wealthy people, rich peopleHi All,

Don’t know if you saw this, but the story is making the rounds on the internet. Evidently a new report from OXFAM has come out. The report suggests that just 85 individuals control half of the worlds total wealth.

From OXFAM’s executive summary:

Economic inequality is rapidly increasing in the majority of countries. The wealth of the world is divided in two: almost half going to the richest one percent; the other half to the remaining 99 percent. The World Economic Forum has identified this as a major risk to human progress. Extreme economic inequality and political capture are too often interdependent. Left unchecked, political institutions become undermined and governments overwhelmingly serve the interests of economic elites to the detriment of ordinary people. Extreme inequality is not inevitable, and it can and must be reversed quickly.

Click here for the report.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kara January 20, 2014 at 2:35 pm

The report doesn’t say that 85 people control half the worlds wealth. It says that the 85 top wealthiest people control the same amount of wealth as the bottom half. Those are not the same thing.

It does say that half the world’s wealth is controlled by 1% of the population. 1% of the population is FAR more than 85 people.

2 James January 20, 2014 at 8:37 pm

Thanks Kara – I think the main point holds. There are 85 people who have an awful lot.

3 Kathy January 21, 2014 at 8:57 am

It seems that the report is wrong in that it claims governments will only serve the wealthy. It seems to me that governments go out of their way to penalize the wealthy so the poor will continue to vote for those who give them the benefits they receive. A lot fewer people are wealth than poor….obviously…..but that translates into a lot fewer wealthy voters. The wealthy can use their money to try to influence the outcome of an election, but they don’t have the sheer numbers to provide enough votes to change the outcome.

4 James January 21, 2014 at 9:53 pm


There has been a historical tension between the concentration of wealth and Democratic ideals. The ancient greeks and romans had the same problems with the accumulation of wealth and political capture that OXFAM is complaining about.



5 Kara January 22, 2014 at 1:16 am

Your article is still incorrect as well as misleading. You need to correct it.

6 Joseph Theoway February 3, 2014 at 9:53 am

Since I heard the disclosure over BBC that eight-five richest persons own half of the world’s wealth, I had been excited about it, it the news is not explicit and straight forward. I suggest that world’s economists do more research to establish the actuality of this matter.

7 James February 3, 2014 at 9:19 pm


The actual figure is based on some rough calculations by, I think Cap-Gemini. Basically they totaled up the estimates of the wealth owned by the top 85 people and did some basic arithmetic to determine the proportional of total wealth they owned. I don’t think there was any complicated modeling that went into it.

The major issue is once the wealthy are able to acquire so much wealth they effectively acquire political control as well – thats the major concern.



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