Moral Weights according to EA Orgs

This post was motivated by SoGive’s moral weights being (to a first check) quite different to Founders Pledge (FP) and Happier Lives Institute (HLI). Upon checking in more detail, this appears to be the largest discrepency across any organisation. (Although we are still waiting to find out many missing values in the grid as HLI’s research is ongoing).


1 income doubling for 1 year111 [1]1
preventing 1 year of severe depression~1.51[2] (*)1.28[3] 0.71-1.42[4] 4
1 additional year of life2.30[5]1.95-2.8 to 2.91 [6] (*)-
preventing 1 death under 5117.7[7]123.2-192 to 200 [8]100
preventing 1 death over 583.6[7]83.7-67 to 70100

Broadly all organisations (with the exception of SoGive’s view on depression) are very much aligned.

(*) means I expect the organisation would not endorse the figures used here. In the case of GiveWell my best guess is this is roughly inline with what they would use. For Happier Lives Institute it is an upper bound I expect they will be far below when they finish their research.


Open Philanthropy

Open Phil’s summary of their moral weights is very clear and interesting, but:

For now, in order to be more consistent in our practices, we’re going to defer to GiveWell and start to use the number of DALYs that would be implied by extrapolating their moral weights.

I have left them off here, as I would just be duplicating the GiveWell numbers.


GiveWell’s weights are sourced from here. I have made a few small calculations to align these numbers with the other orgs.

Founders Pledge

Founders Pledge’s moral weights are avaiable here.

Happier Lives Institute

Unfortunately, their moral weights are still in the process of being generated. You can determine the range of weights they will use in future in their article The elephant in the bednet.


SoGive’s weights can be found here. I have used them verbatim

  1. ^

    This is a calculation. A 100% increase in income/​consumption is worth 1.27 /​ 0.69 = 1.86 WELLBYs (in HLI terms). (See inputs tab C25) We want this to be 1-unit, so we take 11.86 = 0.55 to be a WELLBY and other numbers are calculated from this.

  2. ^

    GiveWell has a strong aversion to disability weights used blindly, so take this number with a grain of salt.

  3. ^

    Founders Pledge don’t explicitly include depression in their data. I have used the disability weights they used in their public CEA of StrongMinds. I am under the impression they are working to move towards HLI’s model for this.

  4. ^

    This is also a calculation. HLI are inconsistent in how they calculate the impact of depression in WELLBYs. Here they say depression is worth 1.3 WELLBYs. (So 1.3 * 0.55 = 0.71) in units of income doubling. One potential explanation is that “depression” is less severe than “severe depression” so potentially this number could be doubled—they estimate the effect of StrongMinds to be ~1.8 WELLBYs)

  5. ^

    GiveWell uses a metric “Years lived with disease/​disability” which as far as I can tell is equivalent to “value of averting 1 year of death”.

  6. ^

    As mentioned above HLI are still in the process of deciding what their moral weights are. I am taking the upperbound of their deprevationist model, the highest number it could be. The highest number is a deprevationist model of losing 4.95 WELLBY. (4.95 − 0). The lowest number is the same model using a neutral point of 10. “would seem unintuitive to most, but relates to tranquilism and minimalist axiologies” (See inputs tab C18)

  7. ^

    I have taken the average of “death averted from malaria” and “death averted from vitamin A”. The numbers are similar and I don’t think material to the analysis here.

  8. ^

    Using life-expectancy of 70.16, average age of death of under 5s of 1.54 and average age of death of over 5s of 46.06. (Numbers via HLI’s sheet “GiveWell Numbers”). Method suggested by Joel.