Extreme inequality and poverty

Hardworking people can't get ahead when the rules are set against them.

What's wrong

The rigged rules of our economic and political system hold our economy back and make it tough for hardworking people to get ahead. Extreme inequality destabilizes global economies and pushes more and more people into poverty.

Making it right

Practical, smart reforms can level the playing field: Closing tax loopholes; increasing the federal minimum wage; using oil, gas, and mineral revenues responsibly; and ensuring the voices of hardworking people are not drowned out by special interests will all help reduce inequality.


Extreme inequality

Runaway inequality has created a world where just 8 men own as much wealth as the poorest half of the world’s population. We must take urgent action to reverse it now

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Stories & updates

We need a more level playing field

Everyone should be able to earn enough to provide for their family, save for the future, and have a fair chance to get ahead. But many hardworking people struggle just to make ends meet, and don’t have opportunities to succeed.

Extreme poverty and inequality are the result of a skewed economic and political system that favors the few at the expense of everyone else. Decades of government deregulation and bad political choices have allowed big corporations and billionaires to use their immense influence on political leaders to drown out the voices of hardworking people and rig the rules to their advantage. The people who make our economy run are falling farther and farther behind, so the engine of economic growth breaks down.

We need political and economic reform to level the playing field. Governments, businesses, and citizens around the world must come together and pursue a set of bold actions that will give us a system that creates opportunity for everyone, not just a few.

Featured publication

  1. Briefing paper

    An economy for the 99 percent

    New estimates show that just eight men own the same wealth as the poorest half of the world. As growth benefits the richest, the rest of society – especially the poorest – suffers. The very design of our economies and the principles of our economics have taken us to this extreme, unsustainable and unjust point. Our economy must stop excessively rewarding those at the top and start working for all people. Accountable and visionary governments, businesses that work in the interests of workers and producers, a valued environment, women’s rights and a strong system of fair taxation, are central to this more human economy.

  2. Briefing paper

    Wealth: Having it all and wanting more

    These wealthy individuals have generated and sustained their vast riches through their interests and activities in a few important economic sectors, including finance and pharmaceuticals/healthcare. Companies from these sectors spend millions of dollars every year on lobbying to create a policy environment that protects and enhances their interests further. The most prolific lobbying activities in the US are on budget and tax issues; public resources that should be directed to benefit the whole population, rather than reflect the interests of powerful lobbyists.

  3. Fact sheet

    Inequality and Extreme Poverty

    Everyone should be able to earn enough to provide for their family, save for the future, and have a fair chance to get ahead. But many hardworking people around the world struggle to make ends meet because the rules are set against them. The gap between the rich and the poor is spiraling out of control. Just 85 individuals have the same wealth as half the people on our planet. This extreme inequality destabilizes global economies and pushes more and more people into poverty.

  4. Research

    Even it up: Time to end extreme inequality

    This report identifies the two powerful driving forces that have led to the rapid rise in inequality in so many countries: market fundamentalism and the capture of politics by elites. The report then highlights some of the concrete steps that can be taken to tackle this threat, and presents evidence that change can happen.

    Extreme economic inequality has exploded across the world in the last 30 years, making it one of the biggest economic, social and political challenges of our time. Age-old inequalities on the basis of gender, caste, race and religion—injustices in themselves—are exacerbated by the growing gap between the haves and the have-nots.

    As Oxfam launches the Even It Up campaign worldwide, we join a diverse groundswell of voices, including billionaires, faith leaders and the heads of institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, as well as trade unions, social movements, women’s organizations and millions of ordinary people across the globe. Together we are demanding that leaders around the world take action to tackle extreme inequality before it is too late.

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