The world's richest 85 people own as much as the world's poorest 3.5 billion people, global development organization Oxfam said Monday.

"Wealthy elites have co-opted political power to rig the rules of the economic game, undermining democracy and creating a world where the 85 richest people own the wealth of half of the world's population," an Oxfam study entitled "Working for the Few" stated.

The group stated that some economic inequality is "essential to drive growth and progress, rewarding those with talent, hard-earned skills, and ambition to innovate and take entrepreneurial risks. However, the extreme level of wealth concentration occurring today threatens to exclude hundreds of millions of people from realizing the benefits of their talents and hard work."

Oxfam chart one Percentage increase in share of income of the richest one percent Photo: Oxfam

Oxfam, which warned that the massive concentration of global wealth in the hands of so few threatens inclusive political and economic systems, said that its studies have revealed many kinds of economic and financial disparities, including the following five:

--  Almost half of the world’s wealth is now owned by just 1 percent of the population

--  The wealth of the richest 1 percent of people in the world amounts to $110 trillion. That’s 65 times the total wealth of the bottom half of the world’s population

-- Seven out of 10 people live in countries where economic inequality has increased in the past 30 years

-- The richest 1 percent increased their share of income in 24 out of 26 countries for which we have data between 1980 and 2012

-- In the U.S., the wealthiest 1 percent captured 95 percent of post-financial crisis growth since 2009, while the bottom 90 percent became poorer. 

Share of national income going to the richest one percent Share of national income going to the richest one percent Photo: Oxfam