Dr Eamonn Butler's Letter of the Editor of The Daily Telegraph explains the problems with Oxfam's latest inequality report, highlighting that, in fact, the world has become more equal in the last 15 years.
The figures released by Oxfam (“Top one per cent ‘richer than rest of world’, Oxfam says”, report, telegraph.co.uk, January 19) are misleading. The world is in fact getting richer, and the world’s poorest are getting richer twice as fast as the world’s richest. The proportion of the world’s population living on less than $2 (£1.30) a day fell from just under 70 per cent in 1981 to 43 per cent in 2008. There is greater equality now than 15 years ago.
And the reason? Capitalism. Decades of handouts from rich countries have not made the poor richer. People in India and China – and increasingly parts of Africa – are better off because they have launched themselves into the world trading economy. Economic freedom and growth are finally combating poverty.
Sensationalist figures do a disservice to those of us who want to understand and defeat world poverty.
Dr Eamonn Butler
Director, Adam Smith Institute