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Number of billionaires doubled since 2008: Oxfam

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London-based charity organization Oxfam says the number of dollar billionaires has doubled worldwide since the financial crisis of 2008.

In its recent “Even it Up: Time to End Extreme Inequality” report, Oxfam said that the number of billionaires around the world doubled to 1,645 over the past six years.

The report also said that the world’s 85 richest people, previously revealed to be in possession of the same amount of wealth as the poorest half of the world’s population, witnessed a $668-million increase in their money per day over the past year alone.

The charity organization warned that the inequality between the rich and the poor was spiraling out of control.

“Around the world, millions of people are dying due to a lack of health care and millions of children are missing out on school, while a small elite have more money than they could spend in a lifetime,” Oxfam’s International Executive Director Winnie Bayanyima said.

The group said action must be taken to reverse the trend, which it sees as a result of market fundamentalism and the influence of wealthy elites on policy-making in their countries.

“Far from being a driver of economic growth, extreme inequality is a barrier to prosperity for most people on the planet. Today wealth is trickling upwards, and will continue to do so until governments act…,” Bayanyima added.

Kofi Annan, the current chairman of the Africa Progress Panel and a former secretary-general of the United Nations, and Graça Machel, the founder of the Foundation for Community Development in Mozambique and a UN independent expert on the impact of armed conflict on children, are among the list of figures who have endorsed the report.

The group further said that extreme inequality can damage a country’s economy, society, and undermine its political system, while resulting in a rise in instability, conflict, and mental health problems.

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