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Davos 2024
  • 4 min read
  • Published: 15th January 2024
  • Press Release by Clare Cronin

Wealth of five richest men doubles since 2020 as five billion people made poorer


  • The world’s five richest men have more than doubled their fortunes from $405 billion to $869 billion since 2020.
  • Oxfam predicts the world could have its first-ever trillionaire in just a decade while it would take more than two centuries to end poverty.
  • A billionaire is running or is the principal shareholder of 7 out of 10 of the world’s biggest corporations.


Ireland´s richest two Irish billionaires have more wealth than the bottom half of the population.

  • The richest 1% hold 35.4% of Irish financial wealth.
  • A progressive wealth tax on Irish millionaires and billionaires could generate up to €9.2 billion a year.
  • Oxfam Ireland calls on the Government to tax extreme wealth; ensure no taxpayer money goes to corporations who flout their obligations and to empower regulators, workers and the Irish state to take on over-reaching corporations.

Nearly five billion people have been made poorer while the fortunes of the five richest men has doubled reveals a new Oxfam report on inequality and global corporate power. If current trends continue, the world will have its first trillionaire within a decade, but poverty won’t be eradicated for another 229 years.

Inequality Inc.”, is published today as business elites gather in the Swiss resort town of Davos. It reveals that seven out of ten of the world’s biggest corporations have a billionaire as CEO or principal shareholder. These corporations are worth $10.2 trillion, equivalent to more than the combined GDPs of all countries in Africa and Latin America.

We’re witnessing the beginnings of a decade of division, with billions of people shouldering the economic shockwaves of pandemic, inflation and war, while billionaires’ fortunes boom. This inequality is no accident; the billionaire class is ensuring corporations deliver more wealth to them at the expense of everyone else
— Oxfam International interim Executive Director Amitabh Behar

“It´s time for states to reassert themselves, including the Irish state”, said Bríd McGrath, Director of Public Affairs at Oxfam Ireland. “We are calling on the Irish government to properly tax wealth and close the loopholes for tax avoidance. Oxfam estimates that a progressive tax on wealth could yield up to €9 billion annually.”

“We believe that not one cent of taxpayers´ money should go to errant corporations that don´t take their corporate citizenship seriously - those who abuse their dominant position, don´t pay their workers a living wage, who refuse to reduce carbon emissions – those companies should be outside the fold when it comes to grant aid, tax breaks and any other reliefs at budget time.”

We are also calling on the Irish government to work at home and at EU level to curb excess corporate power. Ireland should wholeheartedly support moves within the EU to break up monopolies, to fight the privatisation of crucial public services, to advance worker and consumer rights and to protect the environment.”

“We cannot be in a situation where the real economic power lies in the hands of the few. The state and the people can reclaim our rightful place
— Bríd McGrath, Director of Public Affairs at Oxfam Ireland

Oxfam is calling on the Irish Government to:

  • Introduce a permanent wealth tax on net incomes over US$5 million. A flat rate of 1.5% could yield $4.5 billion (€4.2 billion), while a progressive rate on Irish multi-millionaires and billionaires at a rate of 2% on net wealth above US$5 million, 3% on net wealth over US$50 million, and 5% on wealth above US$1 billion could generate US$10.1 billion dollars each year (9.2 billion.) Find our Methodology Note here.
  • Close tax loopholes which could net €7.1 billion according to the Oireachtas Budget Oversight Committee 2022 report.
  • Implement recommendations from the Commission on Taxation and Welfare which the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council estimated could yield €15 billion.
  • Refuse taxpayers´ money to corporations who flout the law of the land or operate contrary to stated government policy.  

On the global stage, we are calling for Ireland to be a voice for the Global South and support:

  • Work by Thomas Picketty and Jayati Ghosh with staff from the UN, IMF and World Bank for clear targets on wealth inequality reductionn
  • A proposal by Joseph Stiglitz that every nation should aim for a situation where the bottom 40% of the population have around the same income as the richest 10% known as the Palma of 1.

The full Report and Methodology is available on our web site 


Clare Cronin | clare.cronin@oxfam.org

+353 (0) 87 195 2551