Report: Wealth of Irish billionaires increased €3.3bn since beginning of Covid-19 pandemic

Globally, the world’s ten richest men have seen their combined wealth increase by half a trillion dollars since the pandemic began
Report: Wealth of Irish billionaires increased €3.3bn since beginning of Covid-19 pandemic

Oxfam says it could take more than a decade for the world’s poorest people to recover from the financial hit of Covid-19. File Picture: Pexels

The wealth of Ireland’s billionaires has grown by over €3.3bn since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new report from Oxfam.

The charity’s Inequality Virus Report found that while the world’s richest people were able to recoup their pandemic losses by the end of last year, it could take more than a decade for the world’s poorest people to recover from the financial hit of Covid-19. 

Globally, the world’s 10 richest men have seen their combined wealth increase by half a trillion dollars since the pandemic began.

Oxfam says the Covid-19 has the unique potential to increase economic inequality worldwide, and not just in a specific part of the world.

The charity says its report supported by the work of 295 economists from 79 countries, including Ireland. 87% predicted an increase or major increase in inequality in their home country. 

Seven of the eight Irish economists included in the survey predicted inequality would rise here.

According to Oxfam, the report lays bare 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 that pandemic was deepening long-standing economic, racial and gender divides.

Jim Clarken, chief executive of Oxfam Ireland, said that, as a result of the pandemic, the world was preparing to see “the greatest rise in inequality since records began.” 

He said: “Around the world, the impact of Covid-19 is magnifying and exacerbating existing inequalities – as well as racial and gender divides.

Vaccines and recovery

Oxfam says some countries have been 'hoarding' coronavirus vaccines. File Picture: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

Oxfam says some countries have been 'hoarding' coronavirus vaccines. File Picture: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

Mr Clarken said the availability of and access to Covid-19 vaccines was one of "the most extreme and unjust indicators of inequality" in the world at present.

“Rigged economies are funnelling wealth to a rich elite who are riding out the pandemic in safety, while those on the frontline— our shop assistants, healthcare workers, and factory workers — are struggling to pay the bills and put food on the table, and often do not have benefits such as paid sick leave.” 

The half a trillion dollars which the world's richest men accumulated since the beginning of the pandemic, Oxfam says, would be more than enough to pay for a Covid-19 vaccine for everyone on the plant, “and to ensure no one is pushed into poverty.” 

Concurrently, the pandemic has created the worst job crisis in over 90 years with hundreds of millions of people now underemployed or out of work.

“In Ireland, the fallout of the pandemic on employment has disproportionately hit young adults as well as people in low-paid occupations, all of whom are more likely to be paying rent,” Mr Clarken said.

Without significant government intervention, we are looking at a return to long-term unemployment, increasing risks of homelessness and economic insecurity for younger generations in Ireland.

Mr Clarken said that women and marginalised racial and ethnic groups were "yet again bearing the brunt" of the impact.

He said that these groups were far more likely to be pushed into poverty, hunger, and more likely to be excluded from healthcare.

“Long before Covid-19 disrupted our lives, in Ireland and across the world, women sustained our societies through their paid and unpaid care work," he said.

They continue to do so as we manage this public health crisis and as the social and economic consequences unfold. 

"However, there is a lack of attention to gender equality in much of the economic decision making that has taken place since the onset of the pandemic,” he added. 

Oxfam says world governments have a duty to use the pandemic to build a more equal inclusive society - one with protects people living in poverty.

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