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SA most unequal country on Earth: report ahead of Davos

Oxfam says world’s richest earned enough in 2012 to end poverty four times over.

A recent report releases by Oxfam has called South Africa the most financially unequal place on Earth.

SA is now “the most unequal country on earth and significantly more unequal than at the end of apartheid,” said the report released just ahead of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

“Oxfam research has shown that because it is so unequal, in South Africa even with sustained economic growth a million more people will be pushed into poverty by 2020 unless action is taken.”

The report did not provide figures substantiating an evaluation of SA as the most unequal country in the world. However, data from the World Bank showed the country to have a gini coefficient (a measure of inequality) of 63.1 – which is amongst the worst globally.

The report, called ‘The cost of inequality: how wealth and income extremes hurt us all,’ also claims that the world’s top 100 richest people earned enough money in 2012, a net of $240bn, to end world poverty four times over.

Globally the incomes of the top 1% have increased 60% in twenty years,” compared with relatively flat growth amongst the world’s poor, with “the growth in income, for the 0.01% has being even greater.”

“Following the financial crisis, the process has accelerated, with the top 1% further increasing their share of income. The luxury goods market has registered double digit growth every year since the crisis hit,” it said.

While applauding the world’s efforts to reduce extreme poverty over the last decade, Oxfam has called for a “new global goal to end extreme wealth by 2025, and reverse the rapid increase in inequality seen in the majority of countries in the last twenty years.”

“A growing chorus of voices is pointing to the fact that whilst a certain level of inequality may benefit growth by rewarding risk takers and innovation, the levels of inequality now being seen are in fact economically damaging and inefficient.”

It has called the levels of economic inequality politically corrosive, socially divisive, economically inefficient and environmentally destructive.

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