Tax and Fiscal Policy

Fixating on inequality will do little to help people out of poverty


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Oxfam's use of net wealth figures are misleading and unhelpful

Commenting on Oxfam’s report on inequality, Ryan Bourne, Head of Public Policy at the Institute of Economic Affairs, said:

“Oxfam is performing sophistry with numbers with its net wealth figures.They are utterly irrelevant to the hundreds of millions who are pulling themselves out of poverty as a result of increasing incomes due to the improved policy environment in previously very poor countries such as China and Vietnam.

“The claims made by Oxfam on the share of wealth going to the top one per cent are based on highly misleading net wealth figures. Few would accept the idea that someone from a rich Western country with large debts is one of the poorest people in the world, but this is precisely what this measurement of wealth implies. Aggregating these sorts of figures over large populations is therefore meaningless.

“Sadly, there are still billions of people who live in poor countries with dysfunctional economies. Rather than focusing on the top one per cent we should be promoting policies such as free trade, open markets, stable property rights, and the elimination of corruption that can ensure that many other countries can replicate the Asian growth miracle.”


To arrange an interview please contact Camilla Goodwin, Communications Officer: 07821 971 443

Notes to editors:

The mission of the Institute of Economic Affairs is to improve understanding of the fundamental institutions of a free society by analysing and expounding the role of markets in solving economic and social problems.

The IEA is a registered educational charity and independent of all political parties.



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