Again asking for more clarification on what dignity means.
I do think though things that intuitively seem to me to be similar what you are probably talking about with dignity could be important considerations, though I suspect they are unlikely to be cost competitive with mosquito nets and vaccines if you are making direct benefit calculations.
Perhaps we mean something like: Being respected by your community, and treated with respect by the system as a whole, having direct control over your life and what you do day to day, ie being able to meaningfully choose are important components of the good life that an intervention ideally should support rather than oppose.
At the same time, if I was an individual who both was disrespected by the people around him, and dying of malaria, I’d probably strongly prefer to get anti malarial drugs than respect, so unless the respect is much cheaper to provide than DALY, focusing on DALY probably makes more sense.
I suspect a large part of the value of large direct cash transfers is that it makes the person who receives it, because they have more resources, automatically become more respected in their community, and feel more in control of their own choices. So in that sense we might already be pushing interventions that support dignity.
The dignity of the poor being better protected on a large scale is the sort of thing which would require actual systemic change (possibly opposed to systemic change just being a synonym for ‘boo capitalism’), and we don’t know about robust ways to achieve most types of systemic change which don’t have a high chance of backfiring and causing more problems than they fix.
I do think this is an important thing to think about, and that it is at least plausible if you could improve access to and respect for dignity it could lead to a large improvement in well being, comparable possibly to a large increase in income (though probably not comparable to a substantial increase in life expectancy).
Hi Tim. Thanks for your comment. I’ve tried to explain in a little more depth what I mean by dignity in a response above, and there’s a deeper discussion in my WIP literature review. But I think your definition is a reasonable approximation—and your closing thought seems about the same level that I would estimate the possible scale of this. Cash transfers seem like a good example of an intervention that is pretty dignity-focused.
I like your point about how the individual might trade-off between respectful treatment and malarial drugs, because it nicely illustrates what we don’t know—in that case, the trade-off is probably clear, whereas in the case of for example a disrespectful but otherwise useful entrepreneurship training scheme, the trade-off is much less clear. Without measuring respectfulness, we can’t be precise about those trade-offs—but as I said in a response above, this probably has more relevance for the bulk of mid-level development interventions, and less relevance for the most effective interventions that EAs are most concerned about.