Local priorities research (LPR) is research aimed at identifying high priority problems within a local context, such as the context of a particular country.
LPR is quite similar to global priorities research (GPR), except that it’s narrowed down to a certain country; the idea is to leverage local opportunities, not to narrow the moral circle. While GPR is about figuring out what are the most important global problems to work on, LPR is about figuring out what are the most important problems in a local context that can best maximize impact both locally and globally.
The key difference in this geographic difference is in career pathways. Currently, GPR has already narrowed to some very important cause areas for EAs to work on, and organisations like 80,000 Hours have identified potentially very impactful organisations and jobs in those cause areas. However, not all countries have such impactful organisations and jobs available to them. Hence, LPR exists to determine the most impactful cause areas, organisations, and jobs in a local context.
For example, even if it is not as impactful as working in a top AI lab in the US, China, or Europe, LPR has helped EA Singapore identify technical AI alignment research as one of the most impactful cause areas to work on in Singapore. We also found a few potentially impactful local organisations and jobs that people can apply to in this area.
Furthermore, LPR includes not just cause areas that can create impact within a local setting (e.g. research into the effects of a certain health intervention in a country may only be generalisable in that location), it also includes ucase areas that can create impact cross border (e.g. research into biological risks can help others in different countries). LPR is also the more applied kind (i.e. figuring out which specific cause areas we should prioritise in a certain country) and less the foundational or philosophical kind (e.g. figuring out the value of the far future).
Finally, LPR is a broad catch-all term for many specific research activities that one can do in your local context. Here is a non-exhaustive list of examples:
Local cause area prioritisation
Local problem profile research
High impact local career pathway research
Giving and philanthropy landscape research
Public policy research
Analysis of the convergence and divergence between EA and local culture/religion/ethics
Building effective altruism | Diversity and inclusion | global priorities research | Cause X | cost-effectiveness | distribution of cost-effectiveness | impact assessment | intervention evaluation | cause prioritization | cost-effectiveness | altruistic coordination | scalably using labour | markets for altruism
Chua, Yi-yang (2020) Local priorities research: what is it, who should consider doing it, and why, Effective Altruism, September 6.