Inequality around the world has reached an irreversible tipping point.
The U.K.-based House of Commons Library said this month that, if current trends continue, the richest 1% will control nearly 66% of world’s money by 2030. Based on 6% annual growth in wealth, they would hold assets worth approximately $305 trillion, up from $140 trillion today, the Guardian reported. This follows a report released earlier this year by Oxfam, which said that just eight billionaires have as much wealth as 3.6 billion people — the poorest half of the world.
The U.S. actually has a greater gap between rich and poor than many European countries. The divergence in the levels of inequality has been “extreme” between Western Europe and the U.S., according to a separate report, released earlier this year by the World Inequality Lab, a research project in over 70 countries based at the Paris School of Economics, and co-authored by the French economist Thomas Piketty. “The global middle class has been squeezed,” it said.
There is an opportunity gap as well as a wealth gap, particularly when it comes to education. In the U.S., out of 100 children whose parents are among the bottom 10% of income earners, only 20 to 30 of them actually go to college. However, 90 out of 100 children go to college if their parents are within the top 10% earners. What’s more, research has shown that when elite colleges open their doors to students from poor backgrounds, academic performance at the institution doesn’t decline.
Money might not buy love, but it can buy better health. And, to live as long as possible, the world’s wealthy are willing to pay up.
Over the past few decades, the average person’s lifespan has risen almost everywhere in the world. In China, the U.S. and most of Eastern Europe, the average life expectancy at birth has reached the late 70s, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, or OECD. People in Western Europe and Japan, meanwhile, can expect to live into their early 80s.
Most rich people, however, are counting on living even longer — a lot longer, as in two decades more than average. In a new UBS Financial Services survey, 53 percent of wealthy investors said they expected to live to 100.
Hitting triple digits won’t be easy, but it’s not as outlandish as it used to be. The average Japanese woman now has a life expectancy of 87, OECD data show, compared with 81 years for men. And many studies have shown that the wealthy have a built-in longevity advantage.