Extreme inequality and poverty

Growing gap between rich and poor is undermining the fight against poverty.

What's wrong

The inequality crisis is out of control. The economy is good at producing billionaires, but not so good at producing good jobs and rising incomes for working people. The growing gap between rich and poor is undermining the fight against poverty, damaging our economies, and fueling public anger across the globe.

Making it right

Governments, including the US, created the inequality crisis, and must act now to end it. They must ensure that wealthy individuals and corporations pay their fair share of taxes and invest this money in health care and education that meet the needs of everyone. Now is the time for all of us to ensure our economies work for everyone and not just the fortunate few.

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Reduce inequality

Inequality has created a world where the world's richest 1% have more than twice as much wealth as 6.9 billion people. We must take urgent action to reverse it now.

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Stories & updates

Economies that work for everyone

Rising inequality creates growing strains on society. Today, the world’s 2,000+ billionaires have more wealth than 60 percent of the world’s population—that’s 4.6 billion people. Our sexist economy enables the wealthy elite to accumulate big fortunes at the expense of ordinary people. Women and girls particularly suffer from high levels of economic discrimination, work in the lowest paid jobs, and take on the biggest share of unpaid care work. It’s no coincidence that 9 out of 10 billionaires are men.

The growing gap between the rich and poor is undermining the fight against poverty, damaging our economies and fueling public anger across the globe—and here in the US where millions of working Americans still find themselves in poverty.

Governments, including the US, are actually exacerbating inequality by cutting taxes for the richest and for corporations, while cutting public services and safety nets—such as health care and education—that fight inequality. The new US tax law championed by President Trump was a master class in how to favor massive corporations and the richest citizens.

We need economic, political, and tax reform to level the playing field if we want to restore prosperity and opportunity for all, including women, girls whose needs are so often overlooked. We can build a brighter future for everyone—not just a privileged few.

Featured publication

  1. Research

    Time to Care

    This report outlines how global inequality is shockingly entrenched and vast, with the number of billionaires having doubled in the last decade. The report also shows how our sexist economies are fueling the inequality crisis and enabling a wealthy elite to accumulate vast fortunes at the expense of ordinary people and particularly poor women and girls.

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  2. Briefing paper

    Public good or private wealth?

    Our economy is broken, with hundreds of millions of people living in extreme poverty while huge rewards go to those at the very top. The number of billionaires has doubled since the financial crisis and their fortunes grow by $2.5bn a day, yet the super-rich and corporations are paying lower rates of tax than they have in decades. The human costs – children without teachers, clinics without medicines – are huge. Piecemeal private services punish poor people and privilege elites. Women suffer the most, and are left to fill the gaps in public services with many hours of unpaid care. We need to transform our economies to deliver universal health, education and other public services. To make this possible, the richest people and corporations should pay their fair share of tax. This will drive a dramatic reduction in the gap between rich and poor and between women and men.

  3. Research

    Reward Work, Not Wealth

    Last year saw the biggest increase in billionaires in history, one more every two days. Billionaires saw their wealth increase by $762bn in 12 months. This huge increase could have ended global extreme poverty seven times over. 82% of all wealth created in the last year went to the top 1%, while the bottom 50% saw no increase at all. Dangerous, poorly paid work for the many is supporting extreme wealth for the few. Women are in the worst work, and almost all the super-rich are men. Governments must create a more equal society by prioritizing ordinary workers and small-scale food producers instead of the rich and powerful.

  4. Briefing paper

    An economy for the 99 percent

    New estimates show that just eight men own the same wealth as the poorest half of the world. As growth benefits the richest, the rest of society – especially the poorest – suffers. The very design of our economies and the principles of our economics have taken us to this extreme, unsustainable and unjust point. Our economy must stop excessively rewarding those at the top and start working for all people. Accountable and visionary governments, businesses that work in the interests of workers and producers, a valued environment, women’s rights and a strong system of fair taxation, are central to this more human economy.

  5. Briefing paper

    Wealth: Having it all and wanting more

    These wealthy individuals have generated and sustained their vast riches through their interests and activities in a few important economic sectors, including finance and pharmaceuticals/healthcare. Companies from these sectors spend millions of dollars every year on lobbying to create a policy environment that protects and enhances their interests further. The most prolific lobbying activities in the US are on budget and tax issues; public resources that should be directed to benefit the whole population, rather than reflect the interests of powerful lobbyists.

  6. Fact sheet

    Inequality and Extreme Poverty

    Everyone should be able to earn enough to provide for their family, save for the future, and have a fair chance to get ahead. But many hardworking people around the world struggle to make ends meet because the rules are set against them. The gap between the rich and the poor is spiraling out of control. Just 85 individuals have the same wealth as half the people on our planet. This extreme inequality destabilizes global economies and pushes more and more people into poverty.

  7. Research

    Even it up: Time to end extreme inequality

    This report identifies the two powerful driving forces that have led to the rapid rise in inequality in so many countries: market fundamentalism and the capture of politics by elites. The report then highlights some of the concrete steps that can be taken to tackle this threat, and presents evidence that change can happen.

    Extreme economic inequality has exploded across the world in the last 30 years, making it one of the biggest economic, social and political challenges of our time. Age-old inequalities on the basis of gender, caste, race and religion—injustices in themselves—are exacerbated by the growing gap between the haves and the have-nots.

    As Oxfam launches the Even It Up campaign worldwide, we join a diverse groundswell of voices, including billionaires, faith leaders and the heads of institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, as well as trade unions, social movements, women’s organizations and millions of ordinary people across the globe. Together we are demanding that leaders around the world take action to tackle extreme inequality before it is too late.

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