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85 richest people have as much as world's 3.5 billion poorest

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Fewer than a hundred of the richest people worldwide have the same wealth as 3.5 billion of the poorest globally, a report claims.

Research released by charity Oxfam in a new report titled "Working for the Few" released Monday states that the world's 85 wealthiest -- including telecommunications mogul Carlos Slim Helu, Bill Gates and Larry Page -- are worth a collective $1.7 trillion. In comparison, this amount is owned by half of the world's poorest people, a total of roughly 3.5 billion.

The global aid organization warned that such disparity in wealth distribution may pose risks to "human progress," and "this massive concentration of economic resources in the hands of fewer people presents a significant threat to inclusive political and economic systems."

"Instead of moving forward together, people are increasingly separated by economic and political power, inevitably heightening social tensions and increasing the risk of societal breakdown," the report says.

The report comes ahead of the World Economic Forum in Davos later this week, where political and business figures will meet to discuss disparities in wealth and income, healthcare and climate change.

Oxfam has called for changes in law that allow this disparity to continue, and says that "a majority of people believe that laws are skewed in favor of the rich." The charity labels the impact of allowing so much wealth to be controlled by so few "pernicious," and the majority of the world's population live in countries where the gap between the rich and poor has widened in the last 30 years.

Winnie Byanyima, Oxfam’s executive director commented:

"We cannot hope to win the fight against poverty without tackling inequality. Widening inequality is creating a vicious circle where wealth and power are increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few, leaving the rest of us to fight over crumbs from the top table."

Via: The Independent

Image credit: Flickr

— By on January 21, 2014, 6:01 AM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure