How concentrated has wealth become in the globalized modern world? Here’s one answer: Just eight of the richest people on earth own as much combined wealth as half the human race.
That’s a notable change from last year, when it was reckoned to take 62 of the superrich to match the assets of the 3.6 billion people in the poorer half of mankind.
The charity Oxfam does the math each year and publishes its results just in time for the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where many of the spectacularly wealthy are often among the attendees, along with diplomats, political figures, and business and cultural leaders. The Oxfam report on inequality is on the agenda for discussion at the forum.
Oxfam bases its figures in part on Forbes’s annual list of billionaires and the magazine’s estimates of their wealth. This year, Oxfam said, new data gathered by Credit Suisse about the global poor led it to lower its estimates of their assets, and revise its findings about how few rich men — the eight are all men — were needed to equal the wealth of 3.6 billion people.
Here are the eight, with their net worth as estimated by Forbes, whose annual survey depends on a range of sources:
Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, led the list with a net worth of $75 billion. He is scheduled to speak at the forum in Davos this year.
Amancio Ortega Gaona, the Spanish founder of the fashion company Inditex, best known for its oldest and biggest brand, Zara, has a net worth of $67 billion.
Warren E. Buffett, the chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, $60.8 billion.
Carlos Slim Helú, the Mexican telecommunications magnate, $50 billion.
Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, $45.2 billion.
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s creator, $44.6 billion.
Lawrence J. Ellison, the founder of Oracle, $43.6 billion.
Michael R. Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York and founder of the media and financial-data giant Bloomberg L.L.P., $40 billion.