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Toronto's 1 per cent are about 100,000 times wealthier than us: study

Divide between Toronto's rich and the rest of us among the biggest in the world.

Wealth accumulated by the city’s 1 per cent is about 100,000 times greater than that of the average person, according to a new study.

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Wealth accumulated by the city’s 1 per cent is about 100,000 times greater than that of the average person, according to a new study.

It’s a club most of us will never get to join. Members are mostly male. Interests include private jets, acquiring property and, for at least one, running for president.

They’re the world’s billionaires — and, in Toronto, the gap between them and the rest of us is among the biggest in the world.

Wealth accumulated by the city’s 1 per cent is about 100,000 times greater than that of the average person, according to a new study from University of Toronto’s Martin Prosperity Institute.

The gap is the fourth largest of any North American city, with Mexico City, Seattle and Dallas leading the pack. It’s the 19th biggest gap in the world.

So, what’s it all mean?

Study co-author Richard Florida summed it up like this: “It says Toronto is a very, very rich and a very, very unequal place.”

“We like to think of ourselves as a progressive city. We even tried to brush Rob Ford under the rug,” Florida said. “But he is the product of these objective conditions of a huge gap between the super rich and everyone else.”

Despite that, Toronto’s home to only eight of the 33 billionaires in Canada. According to the study, the local crop is mostly men who range in age from 57 to 82. Working mainly in media, fashion and retail, finance, real estate and health care, they’re a mix of self-made and inherited wealth, Florida said.

Canada’s “lax” estate tax, which allows billionaires to “essentially hand their wealth down from generation to generation” plays a role in supporting a healthy billionaire population, he added.

Kwame McKenzie, CEO of the Wellesley Institute, a non-profit that studies inequality, said it’s no secret that the income gap is a growing problem in both Canada and Toronto.

He called it a “social cancer” that leads to problems with funding public services along with negatively impacting health and life expectancy.

“It really does cut through our social fabric in a way that isn’t good for anyone,” he said. “The question is, what will the government do about it?”

About the study

Researchers used data from the Forbes’ 2015 billionaire listings to track where 1,800 of the richest people in the world live.

The top 50 metropolitan areas account for nearly two-thirds of the world’s billionaires but only seven per cent of the world’s population.

New York city has the most billionaires of any city with 116.

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