One in ten people globally left uncounted by policymakers, says Tax Justice Network

By agency reporter
December 11, 2019

The Tax Justice Network is highlighting the routine underreporting of global and local inequality arising from the exclusion of the people at the very bottom of income distributions, and the exclusion of offshore wealth of the people at the very top.

One in 10 people around the world lack birth registration and legal identity. These are overwhelmingly the most marginalised people in countries at lower-income levels. Without birth registration and legal identity, the world’s most marginalised people risk remaining invisible to all local and international measures of development and sustainability.

At the same time, some 10 per cent of global household wealth is held offshore, and households in the top income bracket have been shown to be evading taxes at many times the rate of the average household. Presenting research from his new book The Uncounted at a World Bank conference of anti-corruption and development experts, Alex Cobham, economist and chief executive of the Tax Justice Network, argued that the double exclusion of people at the very bottom of income levels and the wealth of people at the very top has resulted in the equality gap being hugely understated.

Alex Cobham said: “The uncounting of people at the very bottom of income levels and the uncounting of the hidden, offshore wealth of people at the very top means we haven't just terribly underreported inequality, we've let it flourish out of sight.

“Being counted does not guarantee that inequalities will be addressed. But being uncounted certainly makes inequalities less visible, and progress less likely. When we ignore the uncounted, we accept injustice and inequality.

“These failures to count corrupt our statistics, and the prospects for human development, just as they corrupt our politics. And that won’t change until we are willing to end anonymous ownership, by challenging the secrecy practices of the United States among others.”

The World Bank conference focused on growing support among governments for beneficial ownership transparency. Cobham called on governments to establish public beneficial ownership registers and ultimately a global asset registry, as vital steps towards ending the rampant corruption and the uncounted inequalities that must be tackled.

* More on The Uncounted here

* Tax Justice Network


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