MHR

Engineer
1851 karmaJoined Working (0-5 years)Washington, DC, USA

Bio

I work as an engineer, donate 10% of my income, and occasionally enjoy doing independent research. I'm most interested in farmed animal welfare and the nitty-gritty details of global health and development work. In 2022, I was a co-winner of the GiveWell Change Our Mind Contest. 

Comments
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Yeah this is a really good point, I have no idea how to square the numbers with big grants from OP to THL

Thanks Vasco! 

I checked the pages for each charity to get the scores.

I agree that AWF doesn't directly evaluate cost-effectiveness, but I still think there's a good chance they're likely to be the EV maximizing option over THL. THL estimates that it costs them $2.63 to move a hen from a conventional to a cage-free system, or about 0.57 yr/$ given a 1.5-year lifespan. Last year, Emily Oehlsen from Open Phil said "We think that the marginal [farmed animal welfare] funding opportunity is ~1/5th as cost-effective as the average from Saulius’ analysis." Saulius's 2019 analysis estimated that corporate campaigns pre-2019 impacted 41 chicken-years per dollar, so at a 5x reduction that's 8.2 yr/$. I don't want to take Emily's numbers too literally, but that implies a >10x gap between the cost effectiveness values of OP's marginal funding opportunity and THL. Since I'd expect AWF's opportunities to look somewhat similar to OP's, that leads me to guess that they're likely to be on net more cost-effective than THL. This directionally agrees with some of the comments by insiders such as @James Özden on the GWWC evaluations thread as well. But I'd be very curious to hear more from folks who are more plugged in, this is just an outsider's guess. 

For what it's worth, I do actually give to both AWF and THL, but give much more to AWF.

MHR
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A couple things to add to this very good comment:

In general, the landscape of charity evaluation for animal charities is less mature and quite a bit more uncertain than the landscape for global health and development charities. Any cost-effectiveness estimates are going to be coarse and debatable. 

ACE has a partially qualitative cost-effectiveness scoring system. Their ratings (higher = better) for their recommended charities are:

  • Faunalytics: 5.7
  • New Roots Institute: 4.9
  • The Humane League: 4.7
  • Wild Animal Initiative: 4.5
  • Çiftlik Hayvanlarını Koruma Derneği: 4.3
  • Shrimp Welfare Project: 4.3
  • Fish Welfare Initiative: 4.3
  • Sinergia Animal: 4.1
  • Good Food Institute: 3.8
  • Dansk Vegetarisk Forening: 3.7
  • Legal Impact for Chickens: 3.7

@Laura Duffy wrote a report at Rethink Priorities in which she estimated that corporate hen welfare campaigns avert 1.13 DALYs/$ and shrimp stunning interventions avert 0.038 DAYLYs/$. Both of these estimates were quite uncertain and depended on a lot of debatable assumptions (including possibly underrating the potential for shrimp stunning interventions to catalyze industry-wide changes), but I think this is one of the best estimates currently out there. 

My personal advice would be that I think the EA Funds Animal Welfare Fund is probably the expected value maximizing option, while The Humane League is probably the best option if you're somewhat risk-averse.  

Answer by MHR10
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Some data from open phil and EA funds grants:

Shrimp Welfare Project :

  • Open Philanthropy (September 2022): $300,000
  • Open Philanthropy (November 2023): $2,000,000
  • EA Funds (Q1 2022): $45,000
  • EA Funds (Q1 2022): $45,000
  • EA Funds (Q4 2022): $210,000
  • EA Funds (Q3 2023): $130,000

Insect Institute:

  • None listed

Arthropoda Foundation:

  • None listed

Aquatic Life Institute:

  • Open Philanthropy (June 2022): $100,000
  • Open Philanthropy (November 2022): $150,000
  • Open Philanthropy (December 2023): $550,000
  • EA Funds (Q1 2022): $80,000
  • EA Funds (Q1 2022): $80,000
  • EA Funds (Q3 2022): $80,000
  • EA Funds (Q4 2022): $200,000

Crustacean Compassion: 

  • Open Philanthropy (February 2021): $786,830
  • Open Philanthropy (January 2023): $863,595
  • EA Funds (Q3 2021): $92,000
  • EA Funds (Q3 2022): $59,000
  • EA Funds (Q3 2023): $2171
  • EA Funds (Q4 2023): $84,000
MHR
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IMO if EA funds isn't representative of EA, I'm not sure what is. I think the different funds do a good job of accurately representing the broad diversity of viewpoints and approaches within the community, and I would personally be very sad if EA funds dropped the EA branding.

Thanks so much for your response, that all makes sense!

You're understanding question 3 correctly - GiveWell's moral weights look like the following, which is fairly different from valuing every year of life equally. 

MHR
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Thanks so much for going on the podcast and for the incredible work that you and everyone involved in r.i.c.e. are doing! It's amazing that you've been able to save so many lives so cost-effectively. I did have a few questions I was curious about though:

  1. In discussing your room for more funding, you mentioned likely cost-effectiveness improvements from economies of scale as the program grows. That makes complete sense to me on the current margin, but I'm curious if you have thoughts about how the cost-effectiveness might change if the program were to scale up say an order of magnitude. It seems like both r.i.c.e.'s staff and the medical college staff are exceptionally engaged and motivated. Do you sense of how important that's been to the program's success, and of whether that would be hard to maintain and replicate if the program expanded substantially more broadly? I know that for example in early childhood education interventions, there's quite a bit of evidence of negative scale-up effects where programs that look really great in pilots have ended up looking a lot less good when implemented at large scale. (This isn't at all intended to be a negative on r.i.c.e.'s current or near-term work, I'm just curious how optimistic or non-optimistic to be about the larger potential of kangaroo mother care programs)
  2. In talking about why this program wasn't done before r.i.c.e.'s intervention and why it isn't done in more places, you said "There are just a few paediatricians who work there, and they had just a few nurses working with them. And that’s just not going to be enough for this many babies. The government of Uttar Pradesh recognises this; the Department of Medical Education is working hard to open more new medical colleges and new nursing colleges." Given that context, do you worry that part of what r.i.c.e is doing in the short-run is reallocating medical care from being provided to other people to being provided to the babies in the program? I of course don't think this is an argument for r.i.c.e. being ineffective - I think there are strong reasons to think that the care you're providing is doing more good than the counterfactual use of the nurses' time, and that in the long-run the supply of nurses is relatively elastic. But I'm curious if this might be a reason to think the program is less cost-effective than it initially appears.
  3. GiveWell's moral weights take a time-relative interest account-like approach to the value of a human life, in which saving the life of a newborn infant is weighted as moderately less valuable than saving the life of an older child. This leads to GiveWell estimating r.i.c.e.'s cost-effectiveness as about 30% lower than it would have been if they had weighted preventing infant deaths as equally valuable as preventing the deaths of older children. Do you personally have any thoughts about the right approach to making these kinds of difficult tradeoffs when evaluating different charities? And how important a consideration do you think this moral weight question is for donors who are considering donating to r.i.c.e. vs. GiveWell's current top charities. 
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