There was a recent post about economic growth & effective altruism by Karthik Tadepalli. He pointed out that a lot of people agree that economic growth is important, but it hasn't really led to many suggestions for specific interventions.

I thought it would be good to get the ball rolling[1] by asking a few people what they think are good donation opportunities in this area, or if not, do they think this area is neglected when you have governments, development banks, investors etc all focused on growth.

I'm hoping there will be more in depth research into this in 2024 to see whether there are opportunities for smaller/medium funders, and how competitive it is with the best global health interventions.

I have fleshed out a few of the shorter responses with more details on what the suggested organisation does.


Shruti Rajagopalan (Mercatus Center):

  • XKDR Forum - Founded by Ajay Shah and Susan Thomas, it aims to advance India’s growth journey through economic research, data analysis, and policy engagement, with a focus on core areas like macroeconomics, finance, and judiciary.  Susan Thomas has a track record of running a fantastic research group at Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research and Ajay Shah brings years of experience from fostering research groups at NIPFP and time as consultant to the Finance Ministry, Government of India. Both are excellent economists; their strengths include thinking about big questions from first principles, as well as a strong commitment to economic growth and freedom. They are also very good incubators of talent, and have some excellent young researchers working with them - e.g. Bhargavi Zaveri, Harsh Vardhan
    • Former Emergent Ventures winners
  • Prosperiti -A non-profit organization dedicated to economic growth, greater economic freedom and job opportunities for Indians. It is the only all-female founded research think tank in India with cofounders Bhuvana Anand and Baishali Boman at the helm. Their key focus is on labor regulation, especially gendered regulation. They also work on state and local level regulation impacting businesses, pointing out restrictive labor regulations to state and local government partners.  Their core strategy is to offer actionable research on state regulations, assist state governments with the detailed correction of laws and regulations, and also channels the findings to the Union government. And they also have an excellent team with young scholars like Shubho Roy, to turn these plans into practice 
    • Former Emergent Ventures winners 
  • Artha Global  - Policy consulting organization that assists developing world governments in designing, implementing, and institutionalizing growth and prosperity-focused policy frameworks. Originally the IDFC Institute, Artha was re-founded under CEO Reuben Abraham after institutional changes to continue the team’s work under a new banner. Artha places a strong emphasis on strengthening state capacity as a critical factor in translating intentions into real impact and unlocking India’s growth potential. Instead of just focusing on technical inputs, Artha also focuses on coordinated policy implementation. Reuben Abraham’s extensive global network identifies talented potential collaborators across government and private institutions. His and Artha’s strength lies in bringing together disparate actors and backing them to find shared solutions. They demonstrated this during the Covid pandemic where they brought together experts from the medical community, municipal finance, sanitation, data science and AI, and state government leadership to solve pandemic and lockdown related problems
    • Former Emergent Ventures winners 
  • Growth Teams - Founded by Karthik Akhileshwaran and Jonathan Mazumdar, Growth Teams believes sustaining higher broad-based growth and job creation is imperative for alleviating Indian poverty. They are also advised by growth theorists and empiricists like Lant Pritchett. With federal reforms largely exhausted since the 1990s, the onus is now on states to pursue vital labor, land, capital, industrial, and environmental reforms that currently constrain development. Despite ample commentary, glitzy branding efforts, and limited practical progress in resolving firm-level obstacles, states often lack personnel truly versed in implementing growth-enabling policies. Growth Team fills this gap by partnering with state governments to deliver on-the-ground economic and employment strategies. They are particularly focused on generating scalable, manufacturing level job growth in poorer states to unleash the next wave of prosperity in India.
  • Foundation for Economic Development (FED) - FED aims to facilitate economic growth of over 10 percent per annum in India, to improve the lives of all Indians. They work with state level governments where the policy talent is most constrained. They help state governments identify high-impact growth opportunities in areas like labor-intensive exports, housing, etc., and work with the government on creating a value chain of reform.

Tyler Cowen (Marginal Revolution, Mercatus Center):

  • Emergent Ventures - A low-overhead fellowship and grant program that supports entrepreneurs with scalable, "zero to one" ideas for improving society. Includes dedicated support for projects with a focus on India, Africa and the Caribbean, or Ukraine
    • I couldn’t see a way to donate specifically to Emergent Ventures but you could contact Tyler or donate to the Mercatus Center

Jason Crawford (Roots of Progress):

  • Convergent Research - Aims to increase the use of Focused Research Organisations (FROs) to tackle large-scale, tightly coordinated, non-profit projects -  member of the Schmidt Futures network
    • I couldn’t see a way to donate directly, there is mention of a HNW funders network to support FROs and links to the different projects
  • Speculative Technologies - A research organisation that runs coordinated research programs to unlock technologies that are too speculative to be a startup but are too coordination- or engineering-heavy for academia alone
  • Foresight Institute - Supports the development of high-impact technology to make great futures more likely. They focus on science and technology that is too early-stage or interdisciplinary for legacy institutions to support
  • The Institute for Progress - A non-partisan think tank focused on innovation policy. Works to accelerate and shape the direction of scientific, technological, and industrial progress to make it easier to build the future in the United States
  • The Center for Growth and Opportunity (Utah University) - Produces research exploring the way institutions in society create economic growth and connects academic entrepreneurs with pressing challenges
  • Breakthrough Institute - Research institute that identifies and promotes technological solutions to environmental and human development challenges
  • Charter Cities Institute - Advocates for the establishment of charter cities to spur economic development
  • Roots of Progress - Nonprofit attempting to establish a new philosophy of progress for the 21st century. Includes a career accelerator program with the goal of empowering writers who want to make a career out of explaining progress to a large, general audience

Startup Founder:

  • GiveDirectly
  • Basic and applied research in economics
  • Migration policy - opening borders in developed countries, African Union/other pro-migration policies
  • Apply lessons from "How Asia Works" (monetary policy, trade policy, land reform)
  • Regulatory policy - making entrepreneurship and "doing business" easier
  • Corruption reduction, making regulations clearer and easier to comply with, lowering barriers to investment
  • Financial inclusion, mobile money and low-end banking, consumer and small business savings & loans
  • Investment and incubation ecosystems - money + help for small businesses, especially navigating bureaucracy and corruption

Matt Lerner (FP):

  • Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project: Focuses on investigative journalism to expose crime and corruption, impacting economic growth
    • “Recommended partially on economic growth grounds on the basis of a fairly limited literature connecting corruption to growth. The intervention appears to be justified simply on the margin of government financing — e.g. returning stolen funds — but in expectation, the size of the potential economic growth effects makes it appear promising”

Anonymous:

  • Growth Teams - Assists governments in implementing economic growth strategies by synthesising existing policy analysis, coaching government teams and setting up problem-solving processes
  • Overseas Development Institute - An independent think tank focusing on international development and humanitarian issues
    • I couldn’t see a way for individuals to donate directly but ODI is a registered charity in the UK
  • Centre for Effective Governance of Indian States - Aim to help governments measure the outcomes that matter, set goals and monitor progress on these outcomes; effectively hire, train and manage personnel to meet these goals; and allocate resources to achieve these goals cost-effectively
    • Couldn’t see a way to donate
  • EU Tax Observatory - research on taxation and tax evasion, aim to foster a dialogue between the scientific community, civil society, and policymakers in the European Union and worldwide
    • They seem to be funded by governments & foundations only
  • Charter Cities Institute - Advocates for charter cities as a means of economic development
  • The Sentry - Investigative organisation that seeks to prevent multinational networks benefitting from violent conflict, repression, and kleptocracy
  • Transparency International - Aims to combat global corruption and promote transparency, accountability and integrity

Arthur Baker (Development Innovation Lab):

"On investments to increase agriculture productivity (and economic growth), I would consider weather forecasting. There's an investment case here. The following is my subjective view, from the perspective of an impact-maximizing donor. I think this is a case where a few million dollars could help get things moving, and could be really quite transformational. The cost-effectiveness ratios are off the scale (hundreds to one at least). I think this would happen eventually anyway, so we're talking about accelerating access. But the cost-effectiveness calculations above are over 5 years. I think you could easily accelerate availability by 5 years

For investments in improved crops, I would consider pull mechanisms, to complement CGIAR's work. Here is a memo on ‘The return to investing in climate-resilient crops'"


Tom Drake (CGD)

“My suggestion would be to invest in research and innovation systems – not specific innovation projects per se but creating an enabling environment for institutions and individuals to be productive and creative. When I was at DFID I created something called the Research and Innovation Systems in Africa (RISA) Fund


Development and policy professional from Switzerland

“I have worked at the economic development agency of Switzerland which does a lot of economic projects in MICs, often together with World Bank and IMF or similar entities. Things like better tax resource mobilization, resource management, independent central banks.

So one question would be: how neglected is this? It is very much on the radar of the traditional large players and the interventions are usually not that costly (as it often involves capacity building and technical expertise). The hard part is the political economy of the recipient countries - and the question which recipes are really applicable to a wide range of countries.”


Anonymous

Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research - a global partnership that unites international organisations engaged in research about food security

  • “I am increasingly convinced that interventions looking at agricultural productivity in sub-Saharan Africa are among the most robust economic growth stuff out there, but it's still early days. The highest probability thing I've come across so far is directly funding CGIAR; there is a sizable literature showing very high economic returns to investment in ag research at the CG specifically. These BCRs are largely based on micro-level analyses of the income returns to farmers who adopt higher-yielding seed varieties or modern agricultural practices. But I think there are reasons to suspect that the effects are much larger on the limit: Copenhagen Consensus estimates an elasticity of 0.2 for yield with respect to knowledge stocks, and the elasticity of GDP growth with respect to yield is estimated as high as 1. I'm BOTECing this pathway somewhere in the 20x GD range, but there's a lot of potential variation there in both directions.”

Karthik Tadepalli

“I don't really have any well-vetted opportunities in this space. I think this is an area where the potential of direct interventions is generally much lower than advocacy interventions, and I don't know of good advocacy organizations working on growth.

There are a few organizations I know of doing direct work in a promising area.

  1. Building Markets. This is a nonprofit that connects small/medium enterprises in developing countries with buyers in rich countries. In other words, it helps firms in developing countries get export market access. This is the single most promising direct intervention I can imagine, and from scanning BM's website, it seems like they are literate in research and impact evaluations of export promotion programs, so they could be a good opportunity.
  2. One Acre Fund. This is a nonprofit that focuses on providing quality seeds and services to smallholder farmers. Agricultural productivity is a big constraint on growth, so I think there's a lot of promise there. I also know researchers who have collaborated with OAF, who attest to their focus on credibly measuring their impact, and if I recall correctly, OAF has been recommended by The Life You Can Save.
  3. GiveDirectly. This might be surprising, but I would guess that purely from a growth perspective, GD is more promising than any GiveWell top charity. The reason is simply because of the general equilibrium spillovers; people spending money creates income for other people, who then spend money to create income for other people, and so on. This is the most immediate source of growth.

One important thing to note from a cost-effectiveness perspective is that the first-order effect of any growth-enhancing intervention will simply be to increase incomes. The push towards growth is a second-order effect that takes much longer to manifest, and may be almost zero for a marginal dollar spent. So the cost-effectiveness of different interventions will be determined mainly based on how much income they generate, rather than their potential growth impact. But I see that as a pretty decent proxy for growth impact.”

  1. ^

    Also this coincidentally from Astral Codex Ten.

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Reading some of these other responses made me realize how many organizations I overlooked in my response, but I want to especially emphasize CGIAR. CGIAR was key to the Green Revolution, which is (imo) the greatest philanthropic achievement of all time. I understand that their more recent efforts have been considerably less successful, for reasons I don't fully understand, but certainly they deserve more attention.

Do you know if other CGIAR centers contributed significantly to the Green Revolution or if it was only CIMMYT? I do not. 

There were a bunch, most prominently IRRI in the Philippines - Table 1 in this paper lists all of them.

Thanks for the post.

One point I'm curious about, however, is whether more economic growth really will contribute to higher wellbeing

So far, the relationship seems slim, as argued here. In many rich countries, subjective well-being levels have stagnated since the 1970s, even though GDP has more than doubled. At a given point in time, richer people are more satisfied than poorer people, and richer countries are more satisfied than poorer countries, but over the course of time, countries which grow faster don't seem to get happier faster. The effect of more money is not based on how objectively wealthy we are, but how much we have compared to others.

For India specifically, happiness levels seem to have been declining between 2008 and 2018, despite strong economic growth.

https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/gCDsAj3K5gcZvGgbg/will-faster-economic-growth-make-us-happier-the-relevance-of#1__Introduction

This answer to the post argues that although the effect on individuals is slim, there can be an aggregate effect. Michael Plant answers that even though there can be an effect, we don't know if it's more than chance.

Growth is correlated with all the good stuff as argued here with good back-and-forth in the comments. One thing it's not (robustly) correlated with is subjective wellbeing. I personally see that as one of the many issues with SWB measures and I place almost no stock in them.

Interesting Karthik. Why does economic growth not being robustly associated with SWB make you less confident in the measure particularly? 

Putting "almost no stock" in a self-reported measurement which is fairly well correlated with measures like good health, income etc. seems like a strong response, but responding to that might be too long for this thread! 

I'm also interested in why you think orgs like One Acre fund and Givedirectly are more "Growth" orientated than GiveWell interventions like deworming, which has been shown to improve education outcomes (a big deal for growth) or even mosquito nets which through avoiding sickness help improve productivity and energy levels a huge amount. On this note it would be interesting to see some kind of specific comparative analysis of potential pro-growth spillover effects of different interventions that are already highly rated. Obviously uncertainty of second-order effects will be through the roof but the analysis might be worth doing.

Putting "almost no stock" in a self-reported measurement which is fairly well correlated with measures like good health, income etc. seems like a strong response, but responding to that might be too long for this thread!

GDP per capita is also strongly correlated with all of those things... but yes it's a bit long of a discussion for this, see some comments here for a good discussion.

There are a couple of papers showing that disease eradication has real but quantitatively small effects on income. (Acemoglu and Johnson 2007, Bleakley 2007, Bleakley 2010) They are severely problematic in many ways but they are the best evidence we have and they don't point to large effects. So health interventions are just not that promising in that regard. I plan to elaborate on this argument in the final post of my growth series... some day...

Edit: I should note that Bleakley is more positive than me in his interpretation, but I think the effect sizes are just not large and certainly wouldn't survive any skeptical adjustments downwards (of which many are warranted)

Thanks so much that's great. And yeah I commented on that thread a bunch :D :D :D.

I'm interested in what attracts you to the impact of eradication on economic growth as the best evidence we have. Intuitively it seems to me like not a great case study, as moving from low malaria prevalence to eradication may only improve productivity for a small percentage of people who were getting malaria. Anywhere where malaria has been "eradicated", seems unlikely to have had malaria as a massive economic issue in the 30 yeas before eradication.

Wheras Here in a Ugandan town though with high prevalence where most people get sick with malaria every year I would say, even with nets and prompt treatment, it really seems to affect productivity and motivation. Also malaria causes anemia and iron deficiency which obviously can reduce productivity in the long term.

There's a bit of research on malaria and economic burden as well, but obviously. The systemic review below is interesting, it seems like it has potential be a fairly big deal on a number of measures including catastrophic expenditure for families, absenteeism, even GDP loss. Obviously those are very much proxys (and you could argue some aren't even that) for economic growth but at least they can be robustly measured.

https://malariajournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12936-022-04303-6

The systemic review below is interesting, it seems like it has potential be a fairly big deal on a number of measures including catastrophic expenditure for families, absenteeism, even GDP loss.

Most studies in this space are just correlational, and having high burden of malaria is obviously correlated with lots of bad things - that doesn't tell us anything meaningful. For example, being poor could cause countries to be unable to deal with malaria, and also cause all those bad things. It looks like the systematic review is also correlational. The studies I linked are the only ones I know of that have a quasi-experimental approach, which is why I lean on them.

as moving from low malaria prevalence to eradication may only improve productivity for a small percentage of people who were getting malaria. Anywhere where malaria has been "eradicated", seems unlikely to have had malaria as a massive economic issue in the 30 yeas before eradication.

Broadly I don't think this is true. DDT was an incredibly powerful anti-malarial tool and caused near-eradication even in places with quite high burdens. Malaria has always been endemic to the Americas and my impression is that DDT is the reason it's mostly gone, though it's still a real public health problem in e.g. Brazil.

even with nets and prompt treatment, it really seems to affect productivity and motivation.

I'm sure this is true, but the productivity and motivation of individual workers isn't the big constraint on growth. A lack of jobs, mobility frictions, inability to invest in growing firms, etc - so even if you made every worker able to 2x their working hours because of better health, that would have <<2x impact on GDP.

I generally think that people with less wealth would trivially swap to having more wealth if they could, which suggests to me that they prefer the latter to the former. I get that wellbeing may not scale linearly with wealth but I would be surprised if it wasn't positively correlated.

Let's formulate this another way. Suppose I propose to give you a Ferrari. Would you accept? 

Of course you would. However, will that really make you happier in the long term? Or will you just take the Ferrari for granted in 3 months? 

Think of the last 3 items you bought on Amazon, or you received as a gift. Did they make you significantly happier compared to a universe where you didn't receive them?

One aspect of having more money is that we get used to it. Fast! And we underestimate how fast we adapt to these kind of changes. 

Sure, but I think we should be wary of thinking that things people choose aren't on some deep level what they want. It's a small but useful amount of information.

Well, I'm personally a bit sceptical of that, due to the fact that many things influence what we choose or not. We're not that good at predicting what will make us happier, and a large amount of what people choose derives from several influences like marketing. 

To take the Ferrari example - the marketing team at Ferrari has been very good at making this kind of car desirable, by associating it with status. But status is relative - in a world with no Ferrari we'd use other symbols (and we did). Marketing is pretty strong when it comes manipulation.

The fact that chasing one's desires (or, more exactly, craving), does not contribute to happiness has been documented in many spiritualities, and I think this still applies today. I recommend this text : https://www.dhamma.org/en/about/art

 (of course, this does not apply to basic stuff like eating, sleeping, etc.)

I don't want to detail, but I have one example in mind : one survey looked at lottery winners (who presumably wanted to win it), and it turns out that one year later, they were less happy than before, on average. This is because they got used to their wealth, but the quality of their relationships with others (friends, family) declined, as people around them started seeing them differently.

Some people in this comment thread are repeatedly making the mistake of talking about the increase in satisfaction due to increased wealth of already-wealthy/developed-country-people. Increases in satisfaction related to increases in income only start to plateau around the $80k per year mark. https://images.app.goo.gl/7jDJFqbj3Eq1ePeY7

The per capita global income is around $10,000. Most people in the world would be significantly more satisfied with 2x, or even 7x, their current income.

The lack of improvement in developed countries is relatively easy to explain: they had a high starting base and many of the material gains accrued to those at the top - wide distribution of gains is really important when you're measuring average happiness. We do see rich countries having fairly consistently higher reported happiness levels than poor ones, it's just that average differences of subjective wellbeing are only a couple of points despite a very large difference in average incomes.

How much of that is genuine hedonic adaptation and how much of it is a culture of not reporting being very unhappy because your neighbours are even poorer is open for debate (it's probably both, and personally I'd hate people to make too many decisions about my welfare based on a semi arbitrary self assessment on a ten point scale). But it might be a moot point anyway, because if GDP growth mean the country can afford a range of interventions to halve infant mortality, that's a lot of extra WELLBYS even if average happiness only changes from 5.2 to 5.4 (Granted, "promoting economic growth" may not be the most efficient way to do this, but ultimately the history of economic growth in much of the world is why there are people with enough disposable income to consider donating to other ways of improving happiness...).

I also think that it's worth drawing a distinction between the direct interventions which aim to boost individual businesses like the One Acre Fund and the indirect interventions aimed at policy reform like supporting think tanks. The former are much more tractable, they have relatively fast positive effects on individuals (relative to others so hedonic adaptation and Easterlin Paradox arguments don't really apply) and there's definitely room for more spending

On the other hand, promoting economic reform is an all-or-nothing intervention; either the government acts or it doesn't. And whilst advocacy has tractable results in other fields: few are as politicised and competitive and thoroughly studied as development economics, so it's very hard to see where an EA institute or funding would have any impact at the margin. Many plausible economic policy interventions also can be expected have negative impacts on welfare or even growth if actually implemented [in the wrong circumstances]. So I think "many strategies to promote economic growth probably don't work" is a better critique than macro data on subjective wellbeing

Thanks for sharing, David! People can find some good ideas in Copenhagen Consensus Center's best investment papers for the sustainable development goals.

  • Each paper does a cost-benefit analysis which accounts for health and economic benefits. The benefit-to-cost ratios across the 12 papers range from 18 (nutrition) to 125 (e-Government procurement).
    • All 12 ratios are much higher than the 2.4 estimated for GiveDirectly's cash transfers to poor households in Kenya.
    • 4 are similar to and 8 are higher than GiveWell's cost-effectiveness bar of around 24 (= 10*2.4), equal to 10 times the above.
  • Cash transfers are often preferred due to being highly scalable, but the 12 papers deal with large investments too. As can be seen in the table below, taken from a companion post, all 12 interventions together have:
    • An annual cost of 41 G 2020-$ (41 billion 2020 USD).
    • Annual benefits of 2.14 T 2020-$ (2.14 trillion 2020 USD), of which 1.12 T 2020-$ are economic benefits corresponding to 14.6 % (= 1.12*1.13/(8.17 + 0.528)) of the gross domestic product (GDP) of low and lower-middle income countries in 2022.
    • A benefit-to-cost ratio of 52.2 (= 2.14/0.041), 21.8 (= 52.2/2.4) times that of GiveDirectly's cash transfers to poor households in Kenya.
  • I think 3 of the papers focus on areas which have not been funded by GiveWell nor Open Philanthropy[1]:
    • e-Government procurement (benefit-to-cost ratio of 125).
    • Trade (95).
    • Land tenure security (21).

Thanks, David! Nice post, and interesting to see a range of options pointed out by different people.

Some suggestions touch upon topics we've done research on at Rethink Priorities. For example, we have a report on charter cities and one on improving weather forecasting for agriculture for anyone who's interested in more detail. We're also planning to publish something on improving scientific research capacity in sub-Saharan Africa soon.

Can't wait for the work on research capacity in SSA!

There is also the Harvard Growth Lab. They work with governments to foster economic growth. There isn't a way to donate, but an actor to keep in mind. Their work is mostly based on the theory of Economic Complexity

Pro-immigration orgs probably meet the bill, e.g. https://malengo.org/ or https://freemigrationproject.org/ (see here for discussion: https://vipulnaik.com/blog/my-q1-2022-donation-to-free-migration-project/)

I don't know much about these org's efficacy, but we generally have good reason to think that more immigration will lead to more growth: https://www.aeaweb.org/articles?id=10.1257%2Fjep.25.3.83

I found the Global Skills Partnerships from CGD interesting but I don't know how active it still is/if you can fund it specifically.

My perception is that LaMP is leading that work now after being incubated at CGD

I appreciate the discussion here and am curating this post. (Thanks for getting the ball rolling!) Some related things I think I'd like to see: 

  1. More comparisons between the options discussed here (e.g. how good are some pro-immigration options, or even an idealized pro-immigration option, relative to something like GiveDirectly, targeted agricultural productivity research/investment, or governance improvements?)
  2. More discussion about and estimates of the actual value of donations aimed at boosting economic growth
    1. Donations vs. other approaches
      1. E.g. maybe the bottleneck tends to be in specialized knowledge (e.g. research based on a deep understanding of key economic factors for LMICs) or other kinds of "direct work" that might be hard to buy via more funding
      2. Or maybe it's hard for people from outside major LMICs to fund the most promising work
    2. How much it's worth prioritizing work in this area at all (and how to approach that) — e.g. a continuation of the discussion in this podcast (skip to section): 
      1. Elie Hassenfeld: "We’ve spoken a number of times with Lant Pritchett, who is a leading academic proponent of these ideas. We’ve looked for specific organisations we could support that are focused on growth specifically. [...] we looked at that level and we’re not super optimistic about the opportunities that we considered. [...] It’s also a question of how you would attack this philanthropically — like I also wonder how neglected this space truly is. There’s the World Bank, IMF, there’s other institutions. There are the Washington think tanks that are definitely focused on economic growth, and academics who focus on macroeconomics and how we can improve low-income country conditions. [...] I think my story would be more that we do know some things that countries should really avoid. I think people are working on that. This is not a totally neglected space. Then there is some degree of disagreement among the different groups working on this about what the right approaches are. Some of the evidence for that is a disagreement about the extent to which past efforts have been effective and to what extent. [...]  It strikes me that there’s more of a risk of doing harm here, by assuming that we do have the answer and pushing economic policy in a certain direction. [...] I also think there are some more detailed things. I think Alexander Berger actually raises this in the comments, that when you’re modelling the effect of GDP, you might want to look at log GDP instead of straight GDP. That is a big effect as you look at the big benefits of the very big numbers. I suspect those are smaller, in terms of their effect on the overall argument, but important nonetheless.
  3. Discussion of the implications of forecasted AI progress, e.g. more like Could AI accelerate economic growth? (or this report or this discussion - both from 2021)
    1. More generally, I'm interested in more like: How does AI progress affect other EA cause areas?
    2. Note that I think AI progress might go catastrophically and I find it hard to think about the potential benefits while still considering potential harms. I really like The costs of caution.

Executive summary: The post discusses potential donation opportunities to support economic growth, especially in developing countries, with a focus on India.

Key points:

  1. Suggestions include supporting policy/advocacy organizations, think tanks, research groups, and programs focused on reforms, capacity building, and enabling entrepreneurship.
  2. Specific ideas cover agriculture, manufacturing, exports, governance, regulations, financial inclusion, corruption reduction, etc.
  3. Donation opportunities seem limited for individuals but some options are highlighted like Emergent Ventures and CGIAR.
  4. It's noted that growth impacts likely manifest slowly so cost-effectiveness may depend more on immediate income changes.
  5. There appears to be room for more research into particular interventions and their effectiveness.
  6. The post aims to start discussion on this broad area which may attract more analysis.

 

 

This comment was auto-generated by the EA Forum Team. Feel free to point out issues with this summary by replying to the comment, and contact us if you have feedback.

Development economics is a full-fledged academic field. Very intelligent people have been working very hard on finding way to improve economic development for many years. Unlikely that outsiders on an internet forum will see neglected solutions.

Would be ecstatic to be proven wrong. In the meantime this sort of post makes the community look arrogant and out of touch.

Hi, development economist here. None of these organizations are EA organizations.

Very intelligent people have been working very hard on finding way to improve economic development for many years. Unlikely that outsiders on an internet forum will see neglected solutions.

This post is a list of projects that very intelligent people have been working very hard on for years that you could fund.

If any of these think tanks had good evidence that their strategy reliably affected economic development, the strategy would quickly be widely adopted and promoted by the thousands of economic development researchers and organisations striving to find such a strategy. Economic development is not a neglected or underfunded field.

There is high-quality evidence supporting some of these orgs, but for the think-tank types, giving to them would be part of a more hits-based giving approach. 

Also, I think many people would say that economic development in LMICs in particular is neglected and underfunded. Stefan Dercon's work (ex-chief economist of Britain's aid agency and development economics professor) challenged my previous assumption that LMIC governments are already optimising for broad-based economic growth.

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