In the past year, the term “the rich get richer” has been remarkably accurate. We have seen the top 10 richest individual’s personal wealth increase tremendously and even witnessed Elon Musk become the richest person on earth, passing Warren Buffet on the way. This trend has not been exempted from Ireland’s billionaires. Of the 9 billionaires in Ireland, they have seen their collective wealth increase by €3.28 billion in 2020, despite going through the deepest global recession this decade. And to put that into perspective, 1/10 of that additional wealth would be able to pay for the COVID vaccine to be available to every citizen in Ireland.
Internationally, we are beginning to see a larger divide between the rich and everyone else. This move towards greater inequality has only been highlighted during the pandemic. It is said that the worlds’ one thousand richest people were able to recover from their financial losses due to COVID within nine months, while it will take more than a decade for the world’s poorest countries to do the same. And since the majority of locations internationally still do not have a COVID vaccine available to the public yet, the largest indicator of this inequality currently is whether the individual has access to this life-saving vaccine.
Pertaining to the current supply of COVID vaccines, the rich nations that account for barely 14% of the world’s population has bought up over half the number of produced vaccines. Reports have shown that the pandemic has allowed the potential for economic and financial inequality to occur in almost every country across the globe, at once.
What does this look like for the general public? This means that the rich elite is riding out the pandemic in their mansion in safety, which the people on the frontlines; our healthcare workers, shop attendants, and factory workers are forced to go to work without the vaccine just to be able to put food on the table. Statistics show that the Rising inequality means it could take up to 14 times longer for the number of people living in poverty to go back to the levels seen before the pandemic. And in Ireland especially, the effect of the pandemic on employment has high young adults as well as people in low-paid occupations extremely hard. Most of these individuals are ones that work full weeks and still struggle to pay the mortgage.
The continuation of this problem is evident, and unless there is major international government intervention, we are looking at an issue that will continue to spiral out of control.
Lucas Zhang was a Finance major at Ohio State University. He writes about finance, mortgages, and technology for Irish Mortgage Brokers.