World's richest 1% have as much wealth as bottom 50%, study finds | Inequality

World's richest 1% have as much wealth as bottom 50%, study finds | Inequality

I'm surprised it's not higher, actually.

A way of looking at this is a single billionaire has as much wealth as a thousand millionaires... and there's really not that many millionaires in the world, certainly not one for every hundred people.

Isn't this headline a complete missunderstanding of the article:

From the first sentence of the article: "The globe’s richest 1% own half the world’s wealth, according to a new report,..."

This means the top 1 % has as much wealth as the bottom 99 %, right?

It's because OP has the headline wrong. Headline is that the top 1% owns 50% of the world's wealth. This ≠ "top 1% has as much wealth as the bottom 50%". If you actually read the article you'll see that the bottom 50% only owns 2.7% of the world's wealth.

Even worse is that the top .001% have as much as the bottom 40%

It's not about the 1%. That's just 1 in 100. You know people in that category. It's about the 1 in 100,000 (which is only 70,000 individuals world-wide). You'll never meet these guys.

I think that is because they're not willing to work down the percentages and possibly say that the worlds richest 0.025% has as much of the combined wealth of the poorest 49.5%.

Real wealth concentration happens by decades. 1% and 50% are really nice round numbers! I have to wonder if the contrast is actually far worse, but would require scientific notation to compactly report.

You guys do realise that if you're a home owner in a Western City, you're likely in (or very close to) the top 1%?

It takes assets of $760,000 (£533,000) to be in the 1%. The average semi-detached home in London costs £574,586, meaning if you pay off your mortgage, congrats you're in the top 1%, you evil greedy capitalists.

The global 1% doesn't just refer to billionaires or even millionaires.

Edit: Added "Or very close to", due to significant property price variations in western cities. The point still stands.

Further edit: A lot of people really are struggling to accept this and yes I realise that the west is essentially funded by debt, but to put it in perspective, if you own a smartphone, through finance or any other means, that's over 1 years salary for 50% of the worlds population.

Yup. Everyone can imagine themselves to someday be that 1 in 100. It seems attainable. So we wont rebel over that statistic. But the truth is that the richest 300 people in the world have as much wealth as the poorest 3billion.

It's not about the 1%. It's about the 1 in 100,000 (which is just 70,000 individuals worldwide) You never personally meet those people.

It's actually the richest 8 people have as much wealth as the bottom half of the world.

Also, here is a good calculator to see how your income or wealth stacks up with the rest of the world. It is very shocking as people have commented in this thread.

Actually, it’s the bottom 3.5 billion working adults has 2.7% of the wealth, which is closer to 70% than 50%.

I've often wondered something. Ignoring money issues for a sec is it physically possible to create a far higher standard of living based purely on our current understanding and available resources?

It seems to me that civilisation is at a silly stage of development where capitalism has achieved a lot but it's inherent flaws like debt, greed and waste are now unreasonably limiting quality of life for many and what's possible.

I've seen this headline almost every week for years now.

Didn’t an article just come out that said only Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffet have as much wealth as the bottom 50% of America, alone? That would seem more shocking to me... three dudes vs half of America.

Almost definitely. If all those people devoted their money to the initial cost of renewable energy and automation, we could have free power, food, and water within a few decades. Imagine: every house with its own solar panels. Massive hydroponic farms tended by solar and wind powered robots. Electric, self-driving cars taking people wherever they want for free. There is no basic cost to living, all income goes to getting better food, better amenities, better things, rather than simply paying off debt and barely affording any food at all.


Getting worse.

You know people in that category.

If you earn a little over average in a wealthy western country there's a big chance you yourself are the 1%.

Edit: added: in a wealthy western country

I'm not sure if many people know that. I used to work with a guy who, in a previous job, was responsible for keeping his boss off of the Forbes list. As in, it sounded like Forbes is willing to look the other way if there is cash involved. There are definitely people who qualify to be on the list, but are not on it.

Who cares? Inequality isn't a problem, poverty is. Instead of looking for ways to drag the rich down, we should look for ways to raise the poor up. And worldwide poverty rates have been declining rapidly across the world due to free markets, free trade, and private charity.

A good start is to encourage investment in impoverished communities, build infrastructure, and ensure access to basic education to ensure things like literacy, basic understanding of math/science, etc.


Your post needs to be higher.

There are others with these amounts that aren’t on those Forbes-type lists

Agree. For instance, being a teacher in Germany already puts you in the 1% of income. People who are talking about the 1% actually mean the 0.01% or even less.

Of course. You think the richest people in the world are a bunch of tech guys in their 50s? Look at ww2 and who funded it. They made a killing helping both sides, where are they? There are families that have been building wealth for centuries but you'll never see them on any list.

We've known this for years though, have we not?

Also you have to remember that this most likely from a legal financial standpoint. Imagine how much illegal money being hidden and laundered by these people. I bet the real wealth gap is much much much wider than let on and we just don't know cause they've hidden trillions in assets. That's just my thoughts is all.

In 'alternative math' that means the 1% and the 99% are exactly the same and there is no inequality at all.

ITT: People living in the most developed countries making above minimum wage thinking that they’re part of the bottom 50%.

haha yeah, but that's a purely professional relationship.

Hell, you only need to earn 32 000$ a year to be top 1% of income. Edit. Different sources says different income but they all seem to be in the same general area.

Yes but now we really really know because they have done this study again.

What has it been historically though? Are we in better and more equal times or worse now?

This is what i see as totally possible today. It's really foolish if you think that essentially everything is free but limited and controlled though money.

We get everything from the environment. We know now more than ever what's sustainable for civilisation and the environment. There are no excuses but a lot to lose if this continues.

You dont revolt for short term gains.

And 2 of them have founded the giving pledge

and the other one hosts cloud servers for the CIA

Corporate tax dodging costs poor countries at least $100 billion every year. This is enough money to provide an education for the 124 million children who aren’t in school and fund healthcare interventions that could prevent the deaths of at least six million children every year.

Fuck me, this is disgusting. How much did the Panama & Paradise papers expose in tax dodging again? Several hundred billion, right? For fuck's sake, there's enough there - which wouldn't change society one bit, we're talking cash that is being parked in god damn offshore bank accounts doing nothing - to educate every kind in the world that isn't currently receiving an education?? Are you. Fucking. Kidding me. We could be building our own paradise, instead we choose this bullshit... Humans suck so fucking much.

Know what blows my mind to that statement? The mega rich aren't using weird ass technology. They use regular phones and regular computers. Their cars are precision engineered but work in the same principles as ours. Their clothes are made of the same chemicals as ours although, again, often more precisely engineered. Their toothbrush is the same as yours. Not some infrared bullshit.

They have access to lavish things like private jets but their day to day is the same as yours except for one factor: they basically have a hell of a lot more control over people than you out I. That's it. Money doesn't buy things, it buys people.

edit: lotta people voluntarily missing the point and trying to shoehorn me into a political position.

You're misunderstanding the meaning of the word "wealth" - which is a formal, structure concept - believing it equivalent to the wors "capital".

Wealth is relative to collective capital, and the purchasing power of that capital.

A person with a lot of capital, in a country with a lot of capital, with opportunity to spend that capital efficaciously on a broad range of products and services, is wealthy.

A person without all three, is not wealthy, relatively.

The American, having access to capital via credit, and a broad range of products and services, is wealthy.

The Indian child, having very little access to capital, without access to much product or services at all, is dirt poor.

Is it truly relevant to go back to monarchical times, though? Back when owning land was an aristocratic privilege and commoners were condemned to pay rent forever? Obviously we are better off today, but the slippery slope of wealth distribution in the cusp of the age of ultimate automation remains incredibly worrying.

Inequality is a problem if the super rich do not pay their fair due in taxes, which happens to be the cash needed for " investment in impoverished communities, build infrastructure, and ensure access to basic education to ensure things like literacy, basic understanding of math/science, etc."

And many people have negative wealth, it's strange to think that a street child in India going by on a single dollar per day has more wealth than almost 50% of Americans(because almost half of all Americans has more debt than they have assets).

Thank you. There are many levels of Wtf with this

In the United States, the top 1% also pay about 50% of the taxes, and the top 20% pay about 85% of the taxes. And, if you are in the bottom 20%, you are exempt from federal income tax, you probably get welfare, Medicaid(aka free healthcare), and a "earned tax credit refund", which is money back on money you never paid in...i.e., more of someone else's money. And if you're in that 21 to 79% range, you're screwed, because you pay substantial taxes, but get no government assistance, nor are you rich enough to not care.

I think you missed out the link to the calculator but I googled it and found this

Inequality is a problem if the super rich do not pay their fair due in taxes

by many measures though, they do pay their fair share of taxes:

According to the Tax Policy Center, they earned 17 percent of expanded cash income in 2014. (Some studies have given higher estimates for this group's share of income depending on their different definitions of income.)

According to a projection from the non-partisan Tax Policy Center, the top 1 percent of Americans will pay 45.7 percent of the individual income taxes in 2014—up from 43 percent in 2013 and 40 percent in 2012 (the oldest period available).

So they make 17% of the income, and pay 2.5x that amount (as a percentage) in taxes. If it were "fair", they would make 17% of the income, and pay 17% of the taxes. Or make 47% of income, and pay 47% of the taxes.

I think you don't want it to be "fair"--or else you will be paying a lot more in taxes, and Donald Trump will be paying a lot less.

That's so fucking ridiciulous, time to rebel

Our standards of living will be much higher during the middle of massive revolt!

You know who gains the most from a revolt? The new leaders.

It doesn't illustrate the higher cost of living that comes with being in a first world country. People make more money because they need to make more money to not be homeless or destitute. A person making $25k here in Canada may very well be in the top 3% of the world by gross income but they still don't have nearly enough to afford anything but the basic necessities.

Cheap, garbage food. Living in dangerous neighborhoods. Working a no skill, dead end job. Living a life with little but working and sleeping.

Income wealth does not equal prosperity.

That's not really an argument against it, yes revolutions suck and the time shortly after they suck more, however, their point is to change how society functions at all levels, usually they happen because the living standards are getting so low that collectively people see them better than the alternative.

That's not really a reason to not revolt, either, though.

"Meh, things won't be ideal, so what's the point?"

Not to further rain on your already depressing parade, but keep in mind that even if that $100b dollars did go to those poor countries, I️ imagine most wouldn’t go to feeding and educating the poor. In many it would likely just find its way into the hands of the rich and corrupt over there.

I think you've just solved the world.

This calculator thinks £40,000 but yea, that's the point.

username checks out

Is this for real?

"wealth" or net worth is just a really shitty way of expressing how a group of people are doing economically.

In the US there are for example several ways of getting to a negative net worth:

1 medical debt, you cannot sell a cancer treatment you already received

2 student debt.

3 homes falling in value while they are mortgaged

If your net worth was already low any of these can drop it into the negative. The child would never get a loan and is indeed way worse off but these statistics won't reflect that.

You're almost certainly not in the bottom 50% globally if you're on reddit. You need a yearly income of roughly $1,300 USD to be in the top 50%, which is pretty chilling to me.

Well yeah, it's super easy to have zero dollars. Hell, I actually have way less than zero dollars. Zero dollars would be an upgrade for me.

Pretty much this.

They are thinking of the top 1% (or less) of people in the developed world, not worldwide.

For instance in the UK, earning £267,000 gets you into the 1%, most people likely wouldn't even classify that amount as the super rich, that's small/mid sized business owner levels, really good sales people or TV correspondents/low level presenters.

£990,000 gets you into the top 0.1% of the UK, which is what people would likely start classifying as really rich, but it's hardly Bill Gates level.

50% of the world earns less than $2 p/day.

Amazing how few people realise this.

If you live in the US, Canada or a rich european country. The averages are very different depending on the country.

It is higher. The Panama and Paradise papers only scratch the surface for how much wealth is held in secret accounts.

I agree with you but poverty in a first world country is still miles ahead of poverty in a third world country. Running water in your house is still not something everyone can enjoy.

And even those 1% will have trouble unlocking all the heroes on Star Wars Battlefront 2...

I guess I meant on a much longer scale than that.

Vast changes to the structure of society need to be made now, otherwise we'll be utterly fucked in very short order.

To be fair, if you pick well my ~$20k of savings is probably more than half of America put together, as you can probably find that many people in debt.

Economist here: I can't agree more that this measurement is nonsense.

We measure income to compare inequality, not preferences in spending and saving habits.

To give you an idea of just how incredibly terrible this statistic is, the average person in Botswana has about as much accumulated wealth as the average person in Canada, and the average citizen of Kuwait has 5,600 times as much as the average citizen of Vietnam.

An IPhone doesn’t count as high standard of living. A vast majority of Americans (for example) live one paycheck or health emergency away from complete poverty at all times, and have nothing in the bank that isn’t already claimed by rent or bills.

Edit: I see that this is a foreign concept to some. When I say “nothing in the bank that isn’t already claimed by rent or bills”, that isn’t an exaggeration. That’s reality for a disturbingly high percentage of us, and telling us “you should’ve saved more” is incredibly insulting. What are my wife and I supposed to save when we’ve spent a decade deciding whether we can afford food or medicine that week, because it often can’t be both. Understand that having the privilege of the ability to save for your future is something that many of us will simply not experience.

This should be higher.

We have to keep readjusting the scale for maximum upset

It is possible. We just need to recycle our oligarchs and all their wealth.

People would be better off if they stopped whining and crying about what others have and worry about bettering themselves.

The world ain't fair. Get over it. There's always going to be rich people and poor people.

Money is like economic potential energy. It is a work motivator.

But you're stating thats it buys labor like it's a revelation and bad thing: prior to this, for the entirety of human history, people were motivated by fear of death as slaves, or the promise of devine salvation. This system is waaaaay better than those.

wealth is a very stupid measure.

Measure disposable income, I think it's better, as it shows how much luxury you can afford (meaning globalized consumer products made in china).

Many homeowners in many locations are technically millionaires.

And some people have nothing or negative wealth.

Yet they don't suffer hunger if it doesn't rain for too long because of welfare, they may just be unable to afford decent food, while somalis who own land and animals and thus would be considered not rich but not poor if they transfered their piece of land and their animals in a western country might actually go hungry if they all die of thirst.

Top 1% having 50% of the wealth is almost exactly the Pareto distribution. The 20/80 rule applied three times says that 0.23 = 0.8% of people have 0.83 = 51.2% of the wealth.

There is nothing new or surprising in this number. The distribution may or may not be "fair", or optimal for the grown of humanity, but it is consistent with a huge amount of observation of human and natural history.

That good ol' american education. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

This calculator really shows you the true benefits of wealth for living in a first world country.


Why is that a problem?

You only need an income of about $33K a year to be top 1% in the world. Most people here are the richest 1% in the world

Have you tried looking up your status on global rich list? Things are very different when you look at the global statistics, you don't need a million to make it to the top 1%. An income of about 32,400 USD a year will get you into the global top 1%. source

In the source article they are using household netto worth vs cost of living though.

I'm top 17% in the world just from my income from studying in Denmark. Roughly 1000 USD from the government every month just for attending an education. Puts things In perspective.

I find this strange because at least that debt gets you something, right? Or are we talking about homeless people in debt? Social benefits are certain wealth. A street child living with a dollar in really poor conditions has it way rougher. Would the child ever get a loan? Maybe this is semantics and to do with what wealth here means.

Here it is not the case. Despite increasing inequality, the average living standard is also growing in the West.

This is simply not true if you only look at the most recent two decades. The standard of living is getting rapidly worse in the US in particular. Mortality rates are up and the cost of healthcare is starting to price people out of the marketplace. Even if they can afford to pay their insurance premiums, the rising deductibles are increasingly preventing people from seeking care.

That just makes no sense mathematically. The richest 1% are around 75 million people. A LOT more people live in western countries. And I don't know which country you live in but that is almost certainly not true.

Dutch People are from Netherlands. We're Danish in Denmark.

Also, this study gets trotted out all the time, and ignores the fact that anyone with positive net worth is wealthier than huge portions of the population living in debt. By these metrics, a doctor with significant student loan debt is considered to have "less wealth" than a working poor person who is unable to get any kind of credit, and therefore has no debt. Obviously, having a medical degree is a huge, but unquantifiable asset that the doctor has, and so any reasonable person would consider him or her much richer than a poor person, but for the purposes of these studies, they usually aren't.

Fun fact: $32,400/year is the top 1% in the world by income.

Median personal income in the US is $31,099/year.

So if you are an above-average American, you are in the top 1%.

I don't know... I'd like to see this study done a couple more times just to make sure.

usually they happen because the living standards are getting so low that collectively people see them better than the alternative.

Here it is not the case. Despite increasing inequality, the average living standard is also growing in the West.

A while back, a study showed that 8 people own as much as the poorest 50%

Whoa, I'm in the richest 10 million, out of 7,000 million people on earth. That's insane, I make well above minimum wage but I don't make a whole lot by local standards.

Bottom 50% agrees.

So much this. I know an emergency room doctor. He makes around $750k per year. He's got a nice life. Nice house, nice car, nice vacations. But he's only got one house. He doesn't have an airplane. Or a yacht. Or a chauffer. Also, he worked very hard to get there - and continues to work hard. 18 hour shifts are common - typically over night. He works most holidays as those are high demand in the ER.

He's got ton more in common with your average person than the 0.001%

Bill gates, for example, made $41 million PER DAY last year. Zuckerberg made $11 million PER DAY. They're in a totally different world. There are hundreds of people who make over a million dollars a day worldwide. There are thousands more who make six figures per day. These people don't have lives anywhere close to you or me or even the ER doctor.

and Gilded.

You have to match up income and wealth against the tax receipts as well as consider the overall tax burden and how it relates to subsistence expenses.

Yeah, I'm aware. This was more of a "we could be doing this insanely easily, but we don't because we straight up suck" realization.

This happens because we keep tolerating globalists. As a people we must revolt against them and keep our nation's pure.