All of kate-UoEstudy2021's Comments + Replies

Allocating Global Aid to Maximize Utility

Hello! I'd like to apologise that I'm not well-versed in economics, and I'm not a utilitarian, so I'm not sure I followed this very well, but I'd be interested to know a bit more about what's being presented in this article. 

If I understood it correctly, this argues that different nations yield different 'utility returns' (i.e. quantified representations of positive impact?) based on the average income of people in those countries- assuming that the aid projects are targeting people in near identical socioeconomic conditions within those countries. If... (read more)

2Aaron Gertler1yI don't have a background in development economics, either, and posted this mostly because I thought people with an interest in that topic might enjoy it. I do have some thoughts on your question, though. You are correct in pointing out that people's real circumstances vary widely, and that someone wealthier might get more "returns" on money than someone poorer because of other differences in their lives. (As an extreme example, you could argue that hunter-gatherers living outside of any economic system are some of the poorest people in the world but would have no use for money.) However, I think the author of this article would argue that these differences tend to be subsumed by the vast numbers of people in the areas being discussed, and that there are good reasons to believe that, in general, the marginal utility of extra money is much higher for people with lower incomes. From the full paper: To interpret and expand on this (in a way I'm not sure the author would endorse): People around the world spend a lot of their money on the same kinds of things (food, housing, healthcare). These "product categories" all seem to have clear patterns in marginal utility. For example, imagine the difference between a $500 and $1000 apartment in Edinburgh, and then the difference between $1000 and $1500. Or the difference between $1 and $3 vs. $3 and $5 worth of food in a Kinshasa market. Of course, people don't always have access to the types of goods they'd need to derive the most benefit from their funds. And sometimes, a relatively small amount of money (for one's country) could be lifesaving -- for example, you sometimes see stories about people dying in the United States because they couldn't afford an inexpensive medication. But it's very difficult to find lifesaving opportunities in richer countries at scale. It's much more complex to find indebted people who are about to be attacked by mobsters than it is to find children who need vaccinations. That's all I have
Open and Welcome Thread: February 2021

Hello everyone!

I'm a 2nd year Sociology & Social Anthropology student studying at the University of Edinburgh. I've joined this forum as myself and some of my colleagues are interested in learning about what various participants in the EA 'movement' think about 'effectiveness' and the organisation as a whole. 

We're doing ethnographic research, which means taking part in some activities alongside you, while talking to you directly in events, on forums, and in interviews. If you'd be interested in talking to me about your experiences and thoughts about effective altruism, please feel free to send me a private message and we can find a time to chat!

1BrianTan1yHi Kate, welcome to the forum! Great to see someone with a sociology background in EA - there's relatively few of you in the movement. I'm glad that you're doing ethnographic research on people in the movement. I was a UI/UX designer before so I've done some user research / qualitative interviews before. Another EA, Vaidehi Agarwalla [https://www.linkedin.com/in/vaidehi-agarwalla/], did something similar to you before where she interviewed people in EA, particularly those who were looking to make a career transition or had just made a career transition. Her undergraduate degree was also in sociology. You may be interested to read her sequence on "Towards A Sociological Model of EA Movement Building" [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/s/F6T9tp25BvPpnHzjN], which I think is unfinished yet, but already has 2 articles in it. I was wondering if you were planning on focusing on a specific topic or demographic within EA for your ethnographic research? That might be good to do, since people in EA and their interests can be quite varied, so it might be worth scoping the research down rather than just asking to interview anyone in the movement. Just my two cents! Also, if you haven't seen it yet, 80,000 Hours has a list here of research topics [https://80000hours.org/articles/research-questions-by-discipline/#sociology-research-questions] that people with a background in sociology can research on. You could consider researching on one of these topics as a side project or uni project in the future. Also, if you're interested in biosecurity, David Manheim had some biosecurity project ideas for people with a sociology/anthropology background [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/NzqaiopAJuJ37tpJz/project-ideas-in-biosecurity-for-eas#Sociology___Anthropology] . :)