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A new analysis published on January 19 by the Fight Inequality Alliance, Institute for Policy Studies, Oxfam, and Patriotic Millionaires found that globally:
- 3.6 million people have over $5 million in wealth, with a combined wealth of $75.3 trillion. (Wealth-X)
- 183,000 individuals own over $50 million, for a combined wealth of $36.4 trillion. (Wealth-X)
- There are 2,660 billionaires with a total combined wealth of $13.76 trillion. (Forbes, November 30, 2021).
- An annual wealth tax applied to the world’s richest would raise US $2.52 trillion a year (with a graduated rate structure: 2 % tax on wealth over $5 million; 3 % on wealth over $50 million; 5 % on wealth over $1 billion.)
- A more steeply progressive wealth tax would raise US $3.62 trillion a year (with graduated rates of 2 % on wealth starting at $5 million; 5 % on wealth over $50 million; and 10 % on wealth over $1 billion.)
An annual tax on the world’s richest would be enough to lift 2.3 billion people out of poverty, make enough vaccines for the whole world, and deliver universal health care and social protection for all the citizens of low and lower middle-income countries (3.6 billion people).
This new global billionaire wealth analysis comes on the heels of a new Oxfam report based on World Bank data that shows that while 99 percent of the world’s workers earned less money in 2021, the world’s 10 wealthiest men more than doubled their fortunes. Meanwhile, global protests around the world are set to coincide with the World Economic Forum’s ‘State of the World’ online meetings.
This latest rise in global wealth stands in stark contrast to loss of lives and jobs during the pandemic, which has pushed tens of millions more people into poverty and further increased inequalities, particularly in poorer nations around the world.
Key highlights from United States analysis:
- There are 1,436,275 individuals with a net worth of $5 million or more, with wealth totaling $28 trillion.
- There are 63,505 individuals with $50 million or more with a combined wealth of $12.8 trillion.
- Between 2016 and 2021, the number of individuals with wealth over $50 million increased from 37,140 to 63,505 with combined wealth increasing from $8.4 trillion to $12.8 trillion, a gain of 51.84 %, adjusted for inflation.
- There are 740 U.S. billionaires with wealth totaling $5.1 trillion. Throughout the pandemic (beginning in mid-March 2020), the wealth of the U.S. American billionaire class increased $2 trillion.
- The richest billionaire owns more wealth than the bottom 40 % of U.S. society.
- U.S. billionaires own half a billion more in wealth than the bottom 60 % of U.S. society.
- An annual wealth tax in the United States would raise $928.39 billion a year (with rates at 2 % on wealth over $5 million, 3 % on wealth over $50 million and 5 % over $1 billion). This revenue could raise the government’s health budget by a third or it could eliminate half of U.S. households’ out of pocket health costs.
- A more progressive wealth tax would raise $1.34 trillion (with rates at 2 % on wealth over $5 million, 5 % on wealth over $50 million and 10 % over $1 billion).
The five richest people in the United States, as of November 30, 2021, are:
- Elon Musk, $294.2 billion
- Jeff Bezos, $202.6 billion
- Bill Gates, $137.4 billion
- Larry Ellison, $125.7 billion
- Larry Page, $122.8 billion
“The insane reality is that whilst billions face a daily struggle to survive during this pandemic, billionaire wealth is spiraling out of control. This cannot be right, said Jenny Ricks, Global Convenor of the Fight Inequality Alliance. “For years Davos has shown us the elites cannot and will not end the virus of inequality they have helped to create. We now have the rare opportunity to create the economy and society we want but this requires deep system change rather than a rehash of the status quo. That’s why it’s time for wealth taxes on the super rich that could raise an eye watering $2.52 trillion a year globally and pay for a People’s Recovery Plan.”
“Wealth inequality has been supercharged by the pandemic, creating an unprecedented global concentration of wealth and power,” said Chuck Collins of the Institute for Policy Studies and co-author of the report. “Taxing the world’s wealthiest one-tenth of 1 percent would raise substantial revenue for public investments in health and social protection and for a greater global response to the most urgent crises of our time. During 2021, we witnessed the epidemic of COVID-19 and wealth-hiding, and it’s time to reverse course.”
“There is no defending a system that endlessly inflates the wealth of the world’s richest people while condemning billions to easily preventable poverty. We need deep, systemic change, and that starts with taxing rich people like me,” said Morris Pearl of the Patriotic Millionaires.
About the Fight Inequality Alliance
Fight Inequality Alliance is a growing global movement organizing to counter the excessive concentration of power and wealth in the hands of a small elite. We are building a just, equal and sustainable world. We unite a wide range of social movements, grassroots and community based organizations, civil society organizations, trade unions, artists and individual activists from across the world.
About the Institute for Policy Studies
For nearly six decades, the Institute for Policy Studies has provided critical research support for major social movements and progressive leaders inside and outside government and on the ground around the United States and the world. As the United States’ oldest progressive multi-issue think tank, IPS turns bold ideas into action through public scholarship and mentorship of the next generation of progressive scholars and activists.
Oxfam is a global movement of people who are fighting inequality to end poverty and injustice. We are working across regions in about 70 countries, with thousands of partners, and allies, supporting communities to build better lives for themselves, grow resilience and protect lives and livelihoods also in times of crisis.
Because we want lasting solutions, we fight the inequalities that keep people locked in poverty and injustice, we tackle not the symptoms but the systems, and we campaign for genuine, durable change.
About the Patriotic Millionaires
Members of the Patriotic Millionaires are high-net worth Americans, business leaders, and investors who are united in their concern about historic levels of inequality and the destabilizing concentration of wealth and power in America. The mission of The Patriotic Millionaires organization is to build a stable, prosperous, and inclusive nation by promoting public policies based on the “first principles” of equal political representation, a guaranteed living wage for all working citizens, and a fair tax system.