Topic Contributions


Hits-based development: funding developing-country economists

There is an internet economic outreach group in Brazil that I am pleased to participate and financially support called Mainstream Economics (Economia Mainstream):

Particularly, I think that this project could have an important impact given the strength (and the damage) caused by economic ideas that deviate from the economic mainstream in Latin America and in Brazil, in particular.


I translated a small excerpt from the group's presentation text (which can be read in Brazilian-Portuguese here:


1. Our goal

Our goal is to disseminate knowledge about economics as much as possible. More specifically, knowledge about mainstream economics, that is, the economics that are taught in the most relevant teaching and research centers and that serve as a framework for most scientific articles published in the major journals.

We want, through our content, to contribute to the propagation and expansion of economic knowledge. For this reason, our content is aimed at both the lay public and those who already have a certain knowledge of the subject.


1.1. Why do we have this goal?

First, for the simple fact that we love scientific dissemination for its own sake, for the pure and simple pleasure of talking about economics.

Second, because we believe that the lack of economic knowledge has generated disastrous results in Brazil. Throughout history, our country has suffered from preposterous economic plans and unsustainable political promises. The result of this is the permanent poverty in which we live, enormous inequality, a completely disorganized institutional environment, a lack of commitment to the future, and, ultimately, the erosion of the social fabric in which we find ourselves today.

We are aware that at this moment we are small players in the construction of the change we aspire to. But as much as our influence at this time is marginal, our ambition is gigantic.


4. Our future projects

We have projects that are either just in the field of ideas or in the embryonic stage or in the development stage. Some of these projects are:

“Microeconomics Project”: teaching the fundamentals of microeconomics (we want to write texts along the lines of this one).

“Programming Project”: teaching programming fundamentals to economists in R and Python languages.

Short videos for Youtube: make animations of short videos for our Youtube channel teaching some economics concepts.

Courses: organize courses such as finance, programming, etc.

Book: publish a book with a collection of articles – whether modified articles already posted on our website or completely new articles.

Open Thread: October 2021

Another great initiative in trying to make the Forum more friendly. Congrats!

 I'm from Brazil, São Paulo. Joined EA community in Dec 2016. Trying my best to help the community grow well.

Economic policy in poor countries


"Open Phil has made roughly 300 grants totalling almost $200 million in their near-termist, human-centric focus areas of criminal justice reform, *immigration policy*"

I think immigration policy may be an exception for the 1,000x bar reasoning since you are pretty much helping people who now live in poor countries (although not necessarily the poorest and also probably with a middles-class selection bias - the ones who can actually afford to leave).

Huh...It made me think if we should have some kind of GiveDirectly for Immigration (FlyDirectly?) where the poorest from the most remote villages would get selected to a visa or something.



The view from Brazil: 

We have a high influential academic establishment that cultivates marxists and outdated nationalist-industrialist approaches to economics. They pass down those "traditions" (religions?) to the younger students generation. The Washington Consensus liberalizing reforms are usually called by the derogatory neoliberal epithet and serious investigation of its impact or even actually what was originally proposed is never transmitted to students.

Maybe our academics and students should hear more about Effective Altruism. Or maybe they should also hear more about our friends at the Neoliberal Project. I'm an activist in both movements and trying my best to change some of that but good luck for me on that! =)

(In any case, here is our website for the Portuguese-speaking members out there:, and if you are from Brazil and want to help with Neoliberal Project or EA drop me a line)

Economic policies is a highly political subject and since "politics is the mind-killer" this is probably why few EAs want to explicitly interfere with this. Maybe there should be some indirect support and this kind of “labor division”. For example, EAs could be stimulated to join their local Neoliberal Project chapters but keep it as two separate groups, with different meeting days, etc.

GCRs mitigation: the missing Sustainable Development Goal

Great work Angela! Congrats!


On “5.Cons” I would have added info hazard.


Not the main topic of this piece but I wanted to comment on that: I agree that violence/security has become too much of a "right-wing issue" and that this is a problem for solving the problem. However, I think this also derives from the almost absent problem of violence in 1st world countries. Both you and I are from Latin America and we know how much of a issue this is in here. The rule-of-law is the most basic precondition so that people may have some stability in life and therefore social development. However, I cannot remember if I ever saw that debated in EA circles. I will therefore use this opportunity to leave this link to a TEDTalk by Gary Haugen from International Justice Mission:

Investment Portfolios as 'Direct Payments'?

If I understood you correctly it seems that the closest thing that you are looking for is microfinance, i.e., you borrow the poor money and they (in theory) prosper and even return the money to you, with an interest. However, microfinance don't seem to be very effective. Here is GiveWell analysis on it

Addressing Global Poverty as a Strategy to Improve the Long-Term Future

Great article! Congrats.

It may be argued that this century may be the most critical for global warming so lifting current people from poverty to a fuel-burning prosperity may be worse than leaving it to later on. In the future better technology may compensate for the fact that we would have more people to be lifted from poverty and into prosperity. For eg, prosperity may be less linked to fuel-burning then it is now or maybe we just made those geoengineering projects work so we can keep on burning oil like crazy. (I'm not defending any of this).

On empowering insufficiently benevolent people: I would need to better look at data but it seems many terrorists don't come from poor families but from middle-class somewhat well-educated backgrounds, many attending university. Maybe educating and lifting people from poverty may, on first, exacerbate this problem. However, it seems to me that the real issue here is religious fanaticism and other radical ideologies, so popular in universities, east or west. I really like the approach from Idea beyond borders on this issue - this project is backed by Pinker who is very found of EA movement and maybe EA should pay more attention to initiatives like that.

Propose and vote on potential EA Wiki entries

Sorry if offtopic but how do I remove a tag after wrongly using it?

A List of EA Donation Pledges (GWWC, etc)

Actually Generation Pledge has a 10% minimum on the inherited assets.

Growth and the case against randomista development

Excerpt from Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo book, Poor Economics:

"Economists (and other experts) seem to have very little useful to say about why some countries grow and others do not. Basket cases, such as Bangladesh or Cambodia, turn into small miracles. Poster children, such as Côte d’Ivoire, fall into the “bottom billion.” In retrospect, it is always possible to construct a rationale for what happened in each place. But the truth is, we are largely incapable of predicting where growth will happen, and we don’t understand very well why things suddenly fire up.

Given that economic growth requires manpower and brainpower, it seems plausible, however, that whenever that spark occurs, it is more likely to catch fire if women and men are properly educated, well fed, and healthy, and if citizens feel secure and confident enough to invest in their children, and to let them leave home to get the new jobs in the city.

It is also probably true that until that happens, something needs to be done to make that wait for the spark more bearable. If misery and frustration are allowed to have their way, and anger and violence take over, it is not clear that the spark will ever arrive. A social policy that works, that keeps people from striking out because they feel that they have nothing to lose, may be a crucial step toward preserving the country’s date with that elusive takeoff.


We may not have much to say about macroeconomic policies or institutional reform, but don’t let the apparent modesty of the enterprise fool you: Small changes can have big effects. Intestinal worms might be the last subject you want to bring up on a hot date, but kids in Kenya who were treated for their worms at school for two years, rather than one (at the cost of $1.36 USD PPP per child and per year, all included), earned 20 percent more as adults every year, meaning $3,269 USD PPP over a lifetime. The effect might be lower if deworming became universal: The children lucky enough to have been dewormed may have been in part taking the jobs of others. But to scale this number, note that Kenya’s highest sustained per capita growth rate in modern memory was about 4.5 percent in 2006–2008. If we could press a macroeconomic policy lever that could make that kind of unprecedented growth happen again, it would still take four years to raise average incomes by the same 20 percent. And, as it turns out, no one has such a lever."

Growth and the case against randomista development

"[R. W. Hafer] found that a country’s average IQ predicted its subsequent growth in GDP per capita, together with growth in noneconomic measures of well-being like longevity and leisure time. An 11-point increase in IQ, he estimated, would accelerate a country's growth rate enough to double well-being just 19 years rather than 27.

Policies that hurry the Flynn effect along, namely investments in health, nutrition, and education, could make a country richer, better governed, and happier down the road."

Extracted from Pinker, Enlightment Now.

Health, nutrition and education improvements also have positive impact on GDP growth, not just the other way around. By expanding access to vitamin A (Helen Keller Foundation, recomended intervention by GW) for eg, we are also having a tremendous, long-run, economic impact.

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