Has there been any research done (either within or outside of EA) about most people’s moral priorities, and/or about the priorities of recipients of philanthropy? I’m thinking of things like, surveys of large groups of people across many cultures which asked them ‘is it more important to be healthy, or wealthy, or have more choices, or prevent risks that might hurt your grandchildren?’
What motivates this question is something like: there’s been a lot of talk about democratizing EA. But even if more EA community members had input into funding decisions, that’s still not really democratic. I want to know: what does the average person worldwide think that wealthy philanthropists should do with their money?
GiveWell commissioned some research into the preferences of people in some low income communities, similar to the beneficiaries of many of their top charities. However, they only asked about whether they valued saving the lives of younger vs older people, and how much they valued saving years of life vs increasing income. It would be interesting to read more holistic surveys that asked about other things that people might value, including things that charities might not straightforwardly be able to provide (like more political participation, or less oppression). (You could use as a basis, for example, the capability approach, or Spencer Greenberg’s work on intrinsic values.)
This might be useful for longtermists as well as those who focus on global health and poverty in the nearer term. You could ask people how much they value risk mitigation vs increases in wellbeing, for example; or you could use people’s answers to try to shape a future that fits more people’s values.