The world’s 85 wealthiest people hold as much wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion, or half the world population, according to a new report from global anti-poverty group Oxfam.

That’s roughly $1.7 trillion for both the 85 richest people, and the poorest half of the planet.

The global economy has become so skewed in favour of the rich that economic growth in many countries today “amounts to little more than a ‘winner takes all’ windfall for the richest,” Oxfam said in a statement.

The report, titled Working for the Few, warns that democratic institutions are being undermined as an increasing amount of wealth is concentrated in the hands of the richest, making it ever easier for them to influence policy to enrich themselves further. The report calls this process “political capture.”

The report comes ahead of this year’s gathering of business people and policymakers at the World Economic Forum, and is clearly aimed to get the forum’s attention.

“In developed and developing countries alike, we are increasingly living in a world where the lowest tax rates, the best health and education and the opportunity to influence are being given not just to the rich but also to their children,” said Oxfam executive director Winnie Byanyima in a statement.

“Without a concerted effort to tackle inequality, the cascade of privilege and of disadvantage will continue down the generations. We will soon live in a world where equality of opportunity is just a dream.”

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  • Poland: 45% (MOST)

    Poland does the most to reduce income inequality, out of 22 countries surveyed. Number represents percentage change in degree of inequality before and after taxes and government transfers. Sources: <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2013/11/america-stingiest-rich-country-world">Kevin Drum</a>, <a href="http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2013/11/inequality-america">Janet Gornick</a>

  • Ireland: 44%

    Number represents percentage change in degree of inequality before and after taxes and government transfers. Sources: <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2013/11/america-stingiest-rich-country-world">Kevin Drum</a>, <a href="http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2013/11/inequality-america">Janet Gornick</a>

  • Sweden: 42%

    Number represents percentage change in degree of inequality before and after taxes and government transfers. Sources: <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2013/11/america-stingiest-rich-country-world">Kevin Drum</a>, <a href="http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2013/11/inequality-america">Janet Gornick</a>

  • The Netherlands: 42%

    Number represents percentage change in degree of inequality before and after taxes and government transfers. Sources: <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2013/11/america-stingiest-rich-country-world">Kevin Drum</a>, <a href="http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2013/11/inequality-america">Janet Gornick</a>

  • Denmark: 41%

    Number represents percentage change in degree of inequality before and after taxes and government transfers. Sources: <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2013/11/america-stingiest-rich-country-world">Kevin Drum</a>, <a href="http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2013/11/inequality-america">Janet Gornick</a>

  • Austria: 40%

    Number represents percentage change in degree of inequality before and after taxes and government transfers. Sources: <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2013/11/america-stingiest-rich-country-world">Kevin Drum</a>, <a href="http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2013/11/inequality-america">Janet Gornick</a>

  • Germany: 40%

    Number represents percentage change in degree of inequality before and after taxes and government transfers. Sources: <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2013/11/america-stingiest-rich-country-world">Kevin Drum</a>, <a href="http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2013/11/inequality-america">Janet Gornick</a>

  • Finland: 40%

    Number represents percentage change in degree of inequality before and after taxes and government transfers. Sources: <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2013/11/america-stingiest-rich-country-world">Kevin Drum</a>, <a href="http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2013/11/inequality-america">Janet Gornick</a>

  • Luxembourg: 38%

    Number represents percentage change in degree of inequality before and after taxes and government transfers. Sources: <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2013/11/america-stingiest-rich-country-world">Kevin Drum</a>, <a href="http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2013/11/inequality-america">Janet Gornick</a>

  • Greece: 37%

    Number represents percentage change in degree of inequality before and after taxes and government transfers. Sources: <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2013/11/america-stingiest-rich-country-world">Kevin Drum</a>, <a href="http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2013/11/inequality-america">Janet Gornick</a>

  • Slovak Republic: 35%

    Number represents percentage change in degree of inequality before and after taxes and government transfers. Sources: <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2013/11/america-stingiest-rich-country-world">Kevin Drum</a>, <a href="http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2013/11/inequality-america">Janet Gornick</a>

  • Norway: 35%

    Number represents percentage change in degree of inequality before and after taxes and government transfers. Sources: <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2013/11/america-stingiest-rich-country-world">Kevin Drum</a>, <a href="http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2013/11/inequality-america">Janet Gornick</a>

  • United Kingdom: 35%

    Number represents percentage change in degree of inequality before and after taxes and government transfers. Sources: <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2013/11/america-stingiest-rich-country-world">Kevin Drum</a>, <a href="http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2013/11/inequality-america">Janet Gornick</a>

  • Spain: 33%

    Number represents percentage change in degree of inequality before and after taxes and government transfers. Sources: <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2013/11/america-stingiest-rich-country-world">Kevin Drum</a>, <a href="http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2013/11/inequality-america">Janet Gornick</a>

  • Australia: 31%

    Number represents percentage change in degree of inequality before and after taxes and government transfers. Sources: <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2013/11/america-stingiest-rich-country-world">Kevin Drum</a>, <a href="http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2013/11/inequality-america">Janet Gornick</a>

  • Canada: 31%

    Number represents percentage change in degree of inequality before and after taxes and government transfers. Sources: <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2013/11/america-stingiest-rich-country-world">Kevin Drum</a>, <a href="http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2013/11/inequality-america">Janet Gornick</a>

  • Israel: 29%

    Number represents percentage change in degree of inequality before and after taxes and government transfers. Sources: <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2013/11/america-stingiest-rich-country-world">Kevin Drum</a>, <a href="http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2013/11/inequality-america">Janet Gornick</a>

  • United States: 26% (LEAST)

    The U.S. does the least to reduce inequality, of 22 countries surveyed. Number represents percentage change in degree of inequality before and after taxes and government transfers. Sources: <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2013/11/america-stingiest-rich-country-world">Kevin Drum</a>, <a href="http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2013/11/inequality-america">Janet Gornick</a>

  • ALSO ON HUFFPOST: OECD COUNTRIES WITH THE WORST INCOME INEQUALITY

  • 10. Japan

    A poor Japanese man pushes a cart in downtown Tokyo on March 2, 2010. (YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • 9. Greece

    A woman holds a cardboard reading in Greek 'I' m hungry' on March 17, 2011 in central Athens. (LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP/GettyImages)

  • 8. Spain

    A man looks for food in garbage container on January 15, 2013 in Santa Cruz de Tenerife on the Spanish Canary Island of Tenerife. (DESIREE MARTIN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • 7. U.K.

    On the day that Britain officially enters a recession, a homeless man walks the streets on January 23, 2009 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

  • 6. Portugal

    Hunter Halder walks toward his bicycle loaded with food that he collect in restaurants on October 21, 2011 in Lisbon. Every night, Hunter Halder, a 60 years old american leaving in Portugal, mounts his bike and toured the restaurants where he gets the food he distributes to the poor of Lisbon, hit hard by the severe economic crisis in Portugal. (PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • 5. Israel

    Thousands of Israelis gather to protest against the cost of living in Israel, in Jerusalem Saturday, Sept. 3, 2011. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

  • 4. U.S.

    A man walks down the street collecting cans on October 20, 2011 in Reading, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

  • 3. Turkey

    Children play on the garbage heap in Hasankeyf a small poverty stricken town on the banks of the Tigris on April 10, 2010. (BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)

  • 2. Mexico

    A family inside their house made with carboard at the edge of a ravine in a poor zone of Mexico city , on July 24, 2012. (OMAR TORRES/AFP/GettyImages)

  • 1. Chile

    Photo: In this June 14, 2012 photo, a man leaves his home in a horse drawn cart to begin his work day of recycling trash in an area where families live in extreme poverty in the Puente Alto sector of Santiago, Chile. (AP Photo/Victor Ruiz Caballero)

The report does recognize that “some economic inequality is essential to drive growth and progress, rewarding those with talent, hard earned skills, and the ambition to innovate and take entrepreneurial risks.”

But “the extreme levels of wealth concentration occurring today threaten to exclude hundreds of millions of people from realizing the benefits of their talents and hard work,” the Oxfam report says. It argues that income inequality widens other forms of social gaps, such as those between men and women.

Among its findings:

• Almost half of the world’s wealth is now owned by just one per cent of the population.
• The wealth of the one per cent richest people in the world amounts to $110 trillion. That’s 65 times the total wealth of the bottom half of the world’s population.
• The bottom half of the world’s population owns the same as the richest 85 people in the world.
• Seven out of 10 people live in countries where economic inequality has increased in the last 30 years.
• The richest one per cent increased their share of income in 24 out of 26 countries for which Oxfam has data between 1980 and 2012.
• In the U.S., the wealthiest one per cent captured 95 per cent of post-financial crisis growth since 2009, while the bottom 90 per cent became poorer.

Oxfam sees a risk to both democratic institutions and to social stability in these trends.

“Instead of moving forward together, people are increasingly separated by economic and political power, inevitably heightening social tensions and increasing the risk of societal breakdown,” the report says.

The WEF has itself been making noise about growing income inequality. A recent report identified growing wealth inequality as one of the top risks to the global economy.

The WEF said income disparity in the wake of the global financial crisis is the "most likely risk to cause an impact on a global scale in the next decade" and warned of a "lost generation" of young people that could stoke tensions in society.

"The generation coming of age in the 2010s faces high unemployment and precarious job situations, hampering their efforts to build a future and raising the risk of social unrest," the Forum said in Global Risks 2014, which was compiled with contributions by 700 global experts.

Oxfam is calling on attendees at this year’s WEF to take a pledge to support progressive taxation and government health care and education programs, as well as to push for living wages at the companies they invest in and to “refrain from using their wealth to seek political favours that undermine the democratic will of their fellow citizens.”

With files from The Associated Press