[Question] Best units for comparing personal interventions?

A fair bit has been writ­ten on ad­van­tages/​dis­ad­van­tages of QALYs, DALYs, Willing­ness To Pay, and other com­par­a­tive units. Katja Grace did a nice overview of some of the op­tions here[1].

Th­ese units have typ­i­cally been used in large-scale eco­nomic and policy analy­ses. I’m in­ter­ested in­stead in mea­sures that can be used for “smart in­di­vi­d­u­als try­ing to im­prove their own lives.”

Some kinds of things that would be nice to com­pare would in­clude:

  • 10 min­utes light walk

  • Eat­ing 1 marginal apple

  • Watch­ing a re­ally good movie

  • 1 hour of med­i­ta­tion, af­ter 50 hours of practice

  • Tak­ing 0.3mg Melatonin

I re­al­ize that these val­ues would vary by per­son, but the use of prob­a­bil­ity dis­tri­bu­tions can help with that.

Some ideas I have in­clude:

  1. En­light­ened & Wealth-Ad­justed Willing­ness to Pay

  2. micro-QALYs

  3. 1 Wel­lbe­ing Unit

En­light­ened & Wealth-Ad­justed Willing­ness to Pay
“En­light­ened” refers to en­light­ened prefer­ences[2]; we’d want to es­ti­mate the will­ing­ness to pay as­sum­ing greater knowl­edge, with some as­sump­tions on what the en­light­en­ing pro­cess would al­low. “Wealth-Ad­justed” means that we’d es­ti­mate the val­ues for some de­fault hy­po­thet­i­cal in­come level, and al­low peo­ple to ad­just things ac­cord­ingly.

QALYs are quite large, so we could break them up into “micro-QALYs” or similar, similar to “microMorts”. One prob­lem with this is that QALYs aren’t re­ally meant to be used in this way; it’s not clear if they could effec­tively scale to life differ­ences like, “Watched this movie.”

1 Wel­lbe­ing Unit
The idea here is to at­tempt to take some near-uni­ver­sal en­joy­ment or unit of pain “not go­ing hun­gry for one lunch” and at­tempt­ing to scale that to other types of things.

One ul­ti­mate goal of this would be to have a list of pre­dic­tions of a very long list of in­ter­ven­tions, prob­a­bly with ad­just­ment fac­tors for var­i­ous pos­si­ble per­sonal in­for­ma­tion.

[1] https://​​fo­rum.effec­tivealtru­ism.org/​​posts/​​qvo­faSbPPGX9XTPr9/​​ap­ples-and-or­anges-some-ini­tial-thoughts-on-com­par­ing [2] https://​​www.cam­bridge.org/​​core/​​jour­nals/​​british-jour­nal-of-poli­ti­cal-sci­ence/​​ar­ti­cle/​​poli­ti­cal-knowl­edge-and-en­light­ened-prefer­ences-party-choice-through-the-elec­toral-cy­cle/​​EF79A2CF17490BE75FEDC1DD96B769E4

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