I'm COO at the Happier Lives Institute (HLI). I joined HLI after attending Charity Entrepreneurship’s Incubation Program. I've worked with EA: Cambridge (UK), interned in the research team at the nonprofit Development Media International and have a PhD in geophysics.


When setting up a charity, should you employ a lawyer?

Thanks for this Sanjay! I have been told that the Charities Commission are being particularly slow at the moment, which pushed me towards seeking outside help - to aim to get it right first time. 

Another option is to find some lawyers willing to help pro bono (for free). Although early, so far I have had a very positive experience with Latham & Watkins: I was connected via Charity Entrepreneurship, I don't know how easy it is to find other options. 

Comments on “Using Subjective Well-Being to Estimate the Moral Weights of Averting Deaths and Reducing Poverty”

On life expectancy

How much variation in life expectancy is there across and within counties? I would expect the life expectancy of those whose lives are saved by GiveWell charities to be among the very lowest and if there’s lots of variation in life expectancy, then the relevant life expectancy could be significantly lower than at the county or national level. [...] Your bounds seem too high to me, given the evidence you cite.

That’s a good point - something we could look into more next time. (In general we spent more time on the decisions specific to using SWB rather than general technicalities, but of course, if people are going to use the results then these are important too.)

Technically, we should look at life expectancy given the current age rather than life expectancy at birth, and this increases as we survive more years (in practice).

Yes that’s true - we mentioned this in a previous version which got dropped, which is my omission. From WHO life tables, the life expectancy for 0-1 year olds is 64.4 and for 1-4 year olds is 66.1 (for Kenyan boys, in 2016 - for girls it’s 68.9 and 70.3), so not a huge difference, although this could be tightened up in future.

I’m not entirely sure how life expectancy is calculated but I think that ideally, you’d also account for life expectancy trends over time.

You’re right. Our World in Data provides a helpful explanation of the different types of life expectancy. We used the UN’s projected life expectancy for 2020-2025, so this should predict how long we can expect babies born today to live. You can see graphs for Kenya here and here (I haven’t figured out the exact methodology and the differences between their ‘standard’ and ‘probabilistic’ projections).

Comments on “Using Subjective Well-Being to Estimate the Moral Weights of Averting Deaths and Reducing Poverty”

Thanks a lot for your detailed comments Aidan, and others at Founders Pledge! We really appreciate the feedback and think our future work on this will benefit from it a great deal. Michael, Joel and I will reply to your comments individually.

On the major comment: This is a great point and something I hadn’t thought of before. Your explanation is very helpful. It’s really striking how large a difference it makes. We will update the post and Guesstimate model soon to correct this.

One thing I can’t quite get my head round - if we divide E(C) by E(L) then don’t we lose all the information about the uncertainty in each estimate? Are we able to say that the value of averting a death is somewhere between X and Y times that to doubling consumption (within 90% confidence)?

HLI’s Mental Health Programme Evaluation Project - Update on the First Round of Evaluation

Hi Matt. Thanks for your concrete suggestions on the data visualisation. I think we made the mistake of adding more and more information without re-thinking what exactly we’re trying to show.

On how the work is being received by other evaluation orgs: I’m not too sure. I suspect other orgs will be more interested in how we do the final evaluation, rather than the preliminary filtering. Hopefully we’ll also get more feedback this weekend at EAGxVirtual (Jasper is giving a talk).

And from mental health experts: My impression from speaking to several academics is that there’s a real effort in global mental health (GMH) at the moment to show that cost-effective interventions exist (this being important to policy-makers) - see e.g. Levin & Chisholm (2016) and WHO draft menu of cost-effective interventions. We have also had quite a few senior researchers offering their support or advice. We hope that our work on cost-effectiveness of micro-interventions will be useful as part of this wider context. One person we spoke to said that a systematic review, perhaps done in collaboration with a university, would be taken more seriously by academics than our current plan. This seems very likely to be true, with the obvious downside that it would be a lot more work.