Letter from Dr Eamonn Butler on Oxfam's inequality report features in The Daily Telegraph

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
London SW1


Kate Andrews' comments on British feminism feature in Breitbart London

Communications Manager at the Adam Smith Institute, Kate Andrews, was quoted in Breitbart London on the state and goals of radical feminism:

Too many modern feminists cite incorrect pay gap figures and demonise male employers in their weak attempt to prove that workplace sexism is alive and thriving in Britain. But this is simply not the case.

British women in full-time work between the ages of 22-39 are now paid, on average, 1.1% more than their male counterparts; it is not inherit sexism that is holding women back from greater achievement, but rather the traditional roles that society still demands of women – expecting them to be mothers and wives regardless of their career ambitions, while providing little support along the way.

The arbitrary demands made by feminists for shortlists, quotas and for salaries to be made public result in gender-baiting at its worst, and do nothing to address the real roots of sexism that still have grips in British society.

Employers seem to be giving women an equal and fair shot at having a career; now is the time to turn to our attention to the private sphere, where women need to be supported and treated fairly, regardless of their career decisions.

Read the full article here.

Dr Eamonn Butler's comments on milk industry subsidies feature in BBC News article

Director of the Adam Smith Institute, Dr Eamonn Butler, was quoted in a BBC News article on milk industry subsidies:

But Eamonn Butler, from free market think tank the Adam Smith Institute, said the industry was in need of modernisation.

"If you simply subsidise this industry, then all that happens is that older, outdated practices continue and new efficient practices don't get a start," he said.

"That's very bad for everybody - it's bad for taxpayers and it's bad for consumers."

Read the full article here.

ASI comments on Oxfam's inequality report feature in The Daily Telegraph

The Adam Smith Institute's comments on Oxfam's inequality report were referenced in Allister Heath's article in The Daily Telegraph:

Absurd? Of course, but that is the methodology used in most reports on global wealth inequality. As the Adam Smith Institute points out, it makes no sense to look at net wealth without also examining the incomes people are likely to earn in future from wages, investments and pensions. The shock and oft-cited statistics about the share of total wealth owned by the richest are based on such misleading net wealth figures. If gross wealth were used, or if adjustments were made for disposable income and living standards, the picture would look significantly less unequal. The bottom 80pc may statistically own just 5.5pc of the world’s net wealth, but that is because they have mortgages. They control far more of the world’s assets than such numbers suggest.

Read the full article here.

Ben Southwood's comments on Oxfam's inequality report feature in the IBTimes

Comments from the Adam Smith Institute's Head of Research Ben Southwood on Oxfam's inequality report – featured in two articles in The International Business Times.

Oxfam's report into global inequality is "very misleading" and uses an over simplistic methodology, according to the Adam Smith Institute.

Ben Southwood, head of research at the right-leaning thinktank, told IBTimes UK that the research, which claimed by 2016 the richest 1% of people in the world will own over 50% of its wealth, painted a different picture to what is actually happening.

The researcher said by using a measure of net wealth the Oxfam study failed to capture all assets, citing human capital as a missing one.

Read the full article here. 

Instead the focus should be on the bottom and what policies can best lift people out of the kinds of absolute poverty seen in parts of Africa, where some people cannot afford to house or feed themselves.

Ben Southwood, head of research at libertarian thinktank the Adam Smith Institute, said of the Oxfam report that it is "not clear why we should care all that much about rising global wealth inequality, when it has come with unprecedented declines in global poverty".

"Hundreds of millions have escaped penury in India and China, but it is not just there where global living standards have been rising — African poverty fell 38% between 1990 and 2011," he said.

Read the full article here.