See our new report, researched and written by IPS, Oxfam, Patriotic Millionaires, and Fight Inequality Alliance. This report is a complement to Oxfam’s recently released, “Survival of the Richest.” Our report includes country-by-country data on wealth inequality and the revenue possibilities of national wealth taxes.
The global billionaire class is gathering this week in Davos, Switzerland to talk about the ongoing “polycrisis” – a term embraced by the World Economic Forum (WEF) to describe the convergence of ecological, political, pandemic and economic disruptions. The one acute crisis they won’t talk about is the extreme levels of concentration of wealth and power happening across the globe.
Estimates from our report, Extreme Wealth, demonstrate that $1.7 trillion could have been raised in 2022 alone if a progressive wealth tax were imposed on the ultra-rich. This revenue could be used to tackle global inequality and set in motion a system of economic democracy.
From Davos to Delhi, London to Nairobi, Mexico City to Manila, activists connected to the Fight Inequality Alliance are taking to the streets demanding that the richest be taxed more. And over 200 millionaires, including Abigail Disney and Mark Ruffalo, have signed onto a statement, “The Cost of Extreme Wealth,” calling for increased wealth taxes.
Global Wealth Inequality
Our new report looks at how the top 0.05 percent have gotten even wealthier over the last decade.
The total number of people in the world with at least $5 million dollars in net wealth has grown by 53 percent and individuals with a net wealth of $50 million or more have enjoyed similar levels of growth.
Meanwhile, the global billionaire class has more than doubled and their wealth has skyrocketed at a similar rate – 99.6 percent to be exact. This is a gain of more than $5.9 trillion – almost twice as much as the combined GDP of Africa – a continent with over 1.3 billion people.
US Wealth Inequality
Wealth in the U.S. has been concentrating in fewer hands at an alarming rate. Individuals with more than $50 million have seen their wealth increase 53.9 percent since 2012.
We estimate that, as of November 2022, there are 1,468,400 individuals in the U.S. with a net worth of at least $5 million. Their total combined wealth is equal to an astounding sum of $28 trillion. Within this group, there are 64,500 individuals with wealth over $50 million and a combined wealth of $12.5 trillion. And then there are the 728 billionaires who have more than $4.5 trillion in combined wealth, a 34.6 percent increase since the pandemic began in mid-March 2020.
Since 2012, the richest 1 percent in the U.S. saw their wealth gain close to nineteen times more than the bottom half of the country’s population. For every $100 of wealth created over the last decade, we estimate that $37.40 went to the top 1 percent. The bottom half of U.S. households only saw a $2 gain.
Taxing Wealth in the US: In the U.S., a graduated annual wealth tax of 2 percent on millionaires over $5 million, 3 percent on wealth over $50 million, and 5 percent on wealth over $1 billion would raise $583.5 billion in revenue.
Calculations are based on the most up-to-date and comprehensive data sources available. Data on the richest individuals is from Wealth-X and figures on billionaires come from Forbes’ Billionaires List.