‘Are you earning to give?’
This is invariably one of the first questions I get asked when meeting new people at Effective Altruism meetings, and it always makes me feel guilty.
‘No,’ I explain ‘I’m training as a speech and language therapist. I’ll be working in education or the NHS. I’m never going to be earning huge sums of money.’
Global public health remains a top contender for the best way to improve welfare through aid. Within health interventions, it is natural to allocate marginal spending to avert the most expected DALYs (disability adjusted life-years) per dollar.
Peter Singer's new book on effective altruism, The Most Good You Can Do, is now out in both the US and the UK. Visit the website for the book here and take part in the giving game to decide which effective charities the profits from selling the book get donated to - and encourage your friends to do the same - here.
Peter Singer presents the following case: suppose you can choose to visit an art museum. On one option, you will see the museum and visit an enticing new wing while on the other option you will see the museum without visiting the new wing. However, there is an evil demon that despises the new wing and so inflicts fifteen years of blindness on one random person out of every hundred people who visit the new wing. Would you visit the new wing? Definitely not!
This academic year, financial education was made part of the compulsory national curriculum in the UK for the first time . This is fantastic news for young people, but also potentially for effective altruism. Most effective altruists that I have met have a good understanding of finance and economics, which is unsurprising in a movement which seeks to do the most good by giving. However, to spread effective altruism on a large scale, we need to be mindful that large numbers of people have a poor understanding of personal finance.
You’ll probably have come across a few posts recently about starting a Giving What We Can Chapter. It’s a highly effective action you can take and it doesn’t take very much of your time.
You might be thinking that you have to know a lot about Giving What We Can and Effective Altruism though. Maybe have a lot of contacts in the movement and your own community? Certainly be very outgoing?
Actually no. If I have managed it, I think you can too.
The other patrons at the Chinese restaurant were beginning to stare. Charlotte and I couldn’t help raising our voices as the debate intensified.
“Isn’t the point to pick the charity that does the most good for the least amount of money? Each dollar that doesn’t go there is a dollar that could have done more good,” she asserted.
“Yes, but I guess there are two different values. Doing as much good as possible, and contributing to the survival of the Jewish people.”
Public health interventions in the 20th century have been responsible for massive improvements in global health. According to the Copenhagen Consensus,
“Life expectancy hardly changed before the late 18th century. Yet it is hard to overstate the magnitude of the improvement since 1900, from a life expectancy of 32 years to 69 now, to 76 in 2050. The biggest factor was the fall in infant mortality.”
68% of the improvement in human health is down to technical improvements, such as vaccines, micronutrient fortification and deworming medicine, while higher income accounts for only 3%. For example, Sub-Saharan Africa’s real per capita income in 2008 was just over half that of England in 1870, and yet child mortality rates are two thirds lower in Africa in 2008 than in England around 1870.
The Against Malaria Foundation (AMF) has been one of our highly recommended charities for several years now. Our colleagues at Givewell have published an extensive update recently that was generally very favourable and they continue to rank among Givewell’s top charities. You can read more about the general case for distributing insecticide treated bednets on Givewell’s page. In this blog post, we give you an update about their efforts that we feel complement Givewell’s report. You can find more general information about AMF on our website. In our opinion, AMF continues to be one of the most effective charities in the world.