It’s Davos this week, which means it’s time for Oxfam’s latest global ‘killer fact’ on extreme inequality. Since our first calculation in 2014, these have helped get inequality onto the agenda of the global leaders assembled in Switzerland. This year, the grabber of any headlines not devoted to the US presidential inauguration on Friday is that it’s worse than we thought. Last year it was 62 people who owned the same as the poorest half of the world. This year it is down to 8. Just 8 men. Have as much wealth as 3.6 billion poor men, women and children. Think about that for a moment, before getting geeky and carrying on with the rest of this post.
Every year, there are also regular attempts at rubbishing the new stat. An admirably nerdy box in Oxfam’s new paper for Davos both explains the origins of the new number (better data) and addresses the expected counterarguments.