Cause prioritization refers to efforts to find the most pressing problems to work on and compare interventions across different cause areas so that we can do as much good as possible with the resources available to us.
Governments and philanthropists spend considerable resources attempting to do good in the world. How those resources are used, however, can make an even bigger difference than how many resources are available. Some work has been done on prioritizing within areas, but the question of how to prioritize between areas—which is arguably more important—has received limited attention.
Cause-neutral prioritization research seeks to identify new promising focus areas and to compare their relative value (for instance by considering factors like scope, neglectedness, and tractability of the problems).
Cause prioritization research (or global priorities research) is often regarded as a highly promising area of work.
80,000 Hours (2016) Global priorities research, 80,000 Hours, April (updated July 2018).
Grace, Katja (2014) Conversation with Paul Christiano on cause prioritization research, 80,000 Hours, August 20.
Cause X | cost-effectiveness | distribution of cost-effectiveness | global priorities research | impact assessment | intervention evaluation | ITN framework
Todd, Benjamin (2013) Why pick a cause? 80,000 Hours website, December 10.
Stafforini, Pablo (2014) Paul Christiano on cause prioritization research, Effective Altruism Forum, March 23.