This post is aimed at those working in jobs which are funded by EA donors who might be interested in voluntarily earning less. This post isn't aimed to influence pay scales at organisations, or at those not interested in earning less.
When the Future Fund was founded in 2022, there was a simultaneous upwards pressure on both ambitiousness and net-earnings in the wider EA community. The pressure to be ambitious resulted in EAs really considering the opportunity cost of key decisions. Meanwhile, the discussions around why EAs should consider ordering food or investing in a new laptop pointed towards a common solution: EAs in direct work earning more.
The funding situation has significantly shifted from then, as has the supply-demand curve for EA jobs. This should put a deflationary pressure on EAs' salaries, but I'd argue we largely haven't seen this effect, likely because people's salaries are "sticky".
One result of this is that there are a lot of impactful projects which are unable to find funding right now, and in a similar vein, there's a lot of productive potential employees who are unable to get hired right now. There's even a significant proportion of employees who will be made redundant.
This seems a shame, since there's no good reasons for salaries to be sticky. It seems especially bad if we do in fact see significant redundancies, since under a "veil of ignorance" the optimal behaviour would be to voluntarily lower your salary (assuming you could get your colleagues to do the same). Members of German labour unions quite commonly do something similar (Kurzarbeit) during economic downturns, to avoid layoffs and enable faster growth during an upturn
Some Reasons you Might Want to Earn Less:
- You want to do as much good as possible, and suspect your organisation will do more good if it had more money at hand.
- Your Organisation is likely to make redundancies, which could include you.
- You have short timelines, and you suspect that by earning less, more people could work on alignment.
- You can consider your voluntary pay-cut a donation, which you can report on your GWWC account. (The great thing about pay-cut donations is you essentially get a 100% tax refund, which is particularly nice if you live somewhere with high income tax).
Some Reasons you May Not Want to Earn Less:
- It would cause you financial hardship.
- You would experience a significant drop in productivity.
- You suspect it would promote an unhealthy culture in your organisation.
- You expect you're much better than the next-best candidate, and you'd be less likely to work in a high impact role if you had to earn less.