Karthik Tadepalli

Economics PhD @ UC Berkeley
2902 karmaJoined Apr 2021Pursuing a doctoral degree (e.g. PhD)karthiktadepalli.com


I research a wide variety of issues relevant to global health and development. I'm always happy to chat - if you think we have similar interests and would like to talk, send me a calendar invite at karthikt@berkeley.edu!


What we know about economic growth in LMICs


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

Interesting, then I figure it probably substituted for meat consumption at restaurants rather than meat consumption at home. Regardless, I think it's mostly valid to use increase in plant based consumption as a proxy for a reduction in meat consumption since total food consumption is relatively stable.

Where are you getting that it didn't decrease meat sales? I see nothing in the article pointing to that and they also point out that aggregate meat sales have been calling.

I would be extremely skeptical that vegan consumption could go up a lot without meat consumption going down, since that would imply people are just consuming a lot more food in aggregate compared to previous years, which seems unlikely.

I don't have any disagreement with getting people information early, I just think characterizing the current system as one where only the criticizee benefits is wrong.

Yes, Ramsey discounting focuses on higher incomes of people in the future, which is the part I focused on. I probably shouldn't have said "main", but I meant that uncertainty over the future seems like the first order concern to me(and Ramsey ignores it).

Habryka's comment:

applying even mild economic discount rates very quickly implies pursuing policies that act with extreme disregard for any future civilizations and future humans (and as such overdetermine the results of any analysis about the long-run future).

seems to be arguing for a zero discount rate.

Good point that growth-adjusted discounting doesn’t apply here, my main claim was incorrect.

If you think that the risk of extinction in any year is a constant , then the risk of extinction by year is , so that makes it the only principled discount rate. If you think the risk of extinction is time-varying, then you should do something else. I imagine that a hyperbolic discount rate or something else would be fine, but I don't think it would change the results very much (you would just have another small number as the break-even discount rate).

Matthew is right that uncertainty over the future is the main justification for discount rates, but another principled reason to discount the future is that future humans will be significantly richer and better off than we are, so if marginal utility is diminishing, then resources are better allocated to us than to them. This classically gives you a discount rate of where is the applied discount rate, is a rate of pure time preference that you argue should be zero, is the growth rate of income, and determines how steeply marginal utility declines with income. So even if you have no ethical discount rate (), you would still end up with . Most discount rates are loaded on the growth adjustment () and not the ethical discount rate () so I don't think longtermism really bites against having a discount rate. [EDIT: this is wrong, see Jack’s comment]

Also, am I missing something, or would a zero discount rate make this analysis impossible? The future utility with and without science is "infinite" (the sum of utilities diverges unless you have a discount rate) so how can you work without a discount rate?

You might want to add what the subject of Moretti (2021) is, and what the result is, just so people know if they're interested in learning more.

But the plans I've seen are all fairly one sided: all upside goes to the criticized, all the extra work goes to the critic.

I see a pretty important benefit to the critic, because you're ensuring that there isn't some obvious response to your criticisms that you are missing.

I once posted something that revised/criticized an Open Philanthropy model, without running it by anyone there, and it turned out that my conclusions were shifted dramatically by a coding error that was detected immediately in the comments.

That's a particularly dramatic example that I don't expect to generalize, but often if a criticism goes "X organization does something bad" the natural question is, why do they do that? Is there a reason that's obvious in hindsight that they've thought about a lot, but I haven't? Maybe there isn't, but I would want to run a criticism by them just to see if that's the case.

I don't think people are obligated to build in the feedback they get extensively if they don't think it's valid/their point still stands.

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