The rich get richer - it's not just a saying, it's occurring as we speak.

An Oxfam report released today details how 82 per cent of the wealth generated last year went to the richest 1 per cent of the global population. While the 3.7 billion people, who make up the poorest half, got nothing.

The report, called Reward Work Not Wealth, explained how dangerous, poorly paid work for the many is supporting extreme wealth for the few. Women are in the worst work, and almost all the super-rich are men.

The report's data, from Credit Suisse, found that 42 people now own the same wealth as the poorest half of humanity.


This information comes as New Zealand's wealth gap has been revealed to be larger than ever.

The richest 1 per cent of Kiwis bagged 28 per cent of all wealth created last year to the tune of $42 billion.

Meanwhile, the poorest 30 per cent of the population, 1.4 million people, got barely one per cent of the wealth valued at $1.5b.

The report urged governments to create a more equal society by prioritising ordinary workers and small-scale food producers instead of the rich and powerful.

One person became a billionaire every two days in 2017. Billionaire wealth has risen by an average of 13 per cent a year since 2010 – six times faster than the wages of ordinary workers, which have risen by a yearly average of just 2 per cent.

It takes just four days for a chief executive from one of the top five global fashion brands to earn what a Bangladeshi garment worker will earn in her entire lifetime.

It would cost $2.2b a year to increase the wages of all 2.5 million Vietnamese garment workers to a living wage. This is about a third of the amount paid out to wealthy shareholders by the top five companies in the garment sector last year.

The Oxfam report called for governments globally to ensure economies work for everyone and not just the fortunate few. The recommendations included:

• Limit returns to fair levels for shareholders and top executives, and ensure all workers receive a minimum "living" wage that would enable them to have a decent quality of life.

• Eliminate the gender pay gap and protect the rights of women workers. At current rates of change it will take 217 years to close the gap in pay and employment opportunities globally between women and men.

• Ensure the extremely wealthy pay their fair share of tax through higher taxes and a crackdown on tax avoidance. And increase spending on public services such as healthcare and education. Oxfam estimates a global tax of 1.5 per cent on billionaires' wealth could pay for every child in the world to go to school.

• In New Zealand, demonstrate global leadership and work with political leaders to call for international tax reforms, including strengthening tax transparency for multi-nationals which is an essential step in fighting global tax avoidance.