Covid is widening gap between rich and poor, Oxfam warns

According to Oxfam’s report, it could take more than ten years for the world’s poorest to recover from the pandemic’s impact on the economy 

Benjamin Cooper
Monday 25 January 2021 11:43 GMT
The report said: “billions of people are struggling to make ends meet”
The report said: “billions of people are struggling to make ends meet” (AFP via Getty Images)

The world's richest people recouped their pandemic losses within just nine months according to research by Oxfam released on the opening day of the World Economic Forum's Davos Agenda.

The charity added that it would take more than a decade for the world's poorest to recover from the economic impacts of the pandemic, according to their Inequality Virus report.

A survey of 295 economists from 79 countries, commissioned by Oxfam, reveals that 87 per cent of respondents, including Jeffrey Sachs, Jayati Ghosh and Gabriel Zucman, expect an "increase" or a "major increase" in income inequality in their country as a result of the pandemic.

Oxfam's report said it shows how current economic systems have allowed the wealthiest "to amass wealth in the middle of the worst recession since the Great Depression while billions of people are struggling to make ends meet".

The charity also said its research demonstrated the manner in which the pandemic was deepening long-standing economic, racial and gender divides.

Oxfam's executive director Gabriela Bucher said the divide between rich and poor was "proving as deadly as the virus".

"Rigged economies are funnelling wealth to a rich elite who are riding out the pandemic in luxury, while those on the frontline of the pandemic - shop assistants, healthcare workers, and market vendors - are struggling to pay the bills and put food on the table," she said.

"Women and marginalised racial and ethnic groups are bearing the brunt of this crisis. They are more likely to be pushed into poverty, more likely to go hungry, and more likely to be excluded from healthcare."

The six-day virtual Davos summit begins on Monday and will feature Indian and Chinese leaders Narendra Modi and Xi Jinping.


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