The Rich get richer…

World Mission

Link: BBC NEWS | Business | Richest 2% own ‘half the wealth’.

The richest 2% of adults in the world own more than half of all household wealth, according to a new study by a United Nations research institute.
The report, from the World Institute for Development Economics Research at the UN University, says that the poorer half of the world’s population own barely 1% of global wealth.

It’s an astonishing fact being reported by the BBC. There’s more than enough information in this single statement by itself to make all of us experience a moment of startled surprise.

The converse though if even more sobering. Half of the people in the world have access to less than 1% of the world’s resources in aggregate. And from what I am given to understand, if the present trends continue, this is inequity is rapidly (exponentially?) getting worse.

There’s more than one Advent sermon in this simple statement.

The Author

Episcopal bishop, dad, astronomer, erstwhile dancer...


  1. Haven’t had time to read the article yet, so I don’t know the answer to this crucial question: What’s the trend in absolute terms, that is, in accessible resources per capita? Percentage comparisons inevitably elicit invidious comments against “the rich.” But if the pie has been growing, and as a result the poorer half has been getting more pie per capita than they did before, quaere whether it matters that others are getting still-more pie — that may be simply a cost of growing the pie at all.

  2. Tis a good question. I expect the actual report might have that information, but I don’t recall that the article did.
    It probably all depends though on how you define wealth… I have many machines in my house that empower me to live my life in a style that 100 years ago would have required a much greater recurring cost for live in servants. Even though I may make less money compared to a normalized amount that I might have made a 100 years ago, I could be considered much wealthier because my lifestyle is technology empowered…
    But. I spent the day yesterday touring around Phoenix with one of the deacons here from the Cathedral and getting oriented to the various missions and outreach agencies dealing with the local homeless population.
    Seeing people who have so very little, who are willing to fight with another person over the rights to a small plot of astroturf to sleep on, sorts of reframes the question for me.
    And then I compare the relative wealth of our homeless population to the people I’ve met in the developing world who would be grateful simply to have the chance to eat a couple of times a day…
    Somehow I find myself wondering when I / we have enough.

Comments are closed.