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8 billionaires own the same wealth as the poorest half of the world's population - does it matter?

Jonny Clark

16th January 2017

Oxfam have updated their list and comparison of the world's super-rich showing that the top 8 wealthiest people own the same wealth as the poorest half of the world's population. You can see their article here.

Interestingly, the Oxfam announcement has come under a little criticism about its relevance (no-one appears to be questioning the data) and I thought it would be interesting to ask students how they felt about the issue. Does it matter that we have a small amount of super-rich people if, on average, every human being is getting wealthier?

The criticisms of the Oxfam article can be found at a BBC link here.

To stimulate your discussion and by way of a fun starter, I've included an 'Iceberg Challenge' resource downloadable below. Run the Powerpoint slideshow and ask your students whether the next named billionaire has a higher or lower level of wealth than the previous name. Just a little bit of fun! The 8 named billionaires are:

1. Bill Gates (US): co-founder of Microsoft (net worth $75bn)

2. Amancio Ortega (Spain): founder of Zara owner Inditex (net worth $67bn)

3. Warren Buffett (US): largest shareholder in Berkshire Hathaway (net worth $60.8bn)

4. Carlos Slim Helu (Mexico): owner of Grupo Carso (net worth $50bn)

5. Jeff Bezos (US): founder and chief executive of Amazon (net worth $45.2bn)

6. Mark Zuckerberg (US): co-founder and chief executive of Facebook (net worth $44.6bn)

7. Larry Ellison (US): co-founder and chief executive of Oracle (net worth $43.6bn)

8. Michael Bloomberg (US): owner of Bloomberg LP (net worth $40bn)

Download the Iceberg Challenge

Jonny Clark

Jon Clark has been teaching economics and business studies for over 25 years primarily in the Further Education sector. Before joining tutor2u, he was a senior manager at South Cheshire College in Crewe.

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