I am an Economist working at Banco de España (Spanish Central Bank). I am 46 years old and have recently finished my PhD Thesis (See ORCID webpage: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1623-0957 ).
Thank you for your post, and my best wishes to Israel in this challenging times. Israel disproportionally attracts both the hatred and the admiration of other countries, and perhaps those who hate are more vocal. So while I cannot add much, I want to wish you all the best.
But the pool of jobs is not fixed at all! Globalization show how easily is moving jobs to poor countries and how strong is resistance to immigration. Inmigrant communities often become traditionalists or end up in ghettoes in the receiving countries, while development in poor countries beguings a chain chain reaction of social emacipation.
What is the great welfare story of the late XXth century? Export oriented development. Mass inmigration is not so brigth… New technology allow for export oriented development in a substantial part of the services sector of the West.
But what about the other way around? It is far better if jobs move from the rich to the poor world. Online Kenyan administratives for UK and US firms, Peruans for Spanish firms, etc…
The most consequential effect of the pandemics has been that it was a demo of how easily many service jobs can be performed online, and that allows for “online migration”. Workers can stay at home enjoying their very cheap local cost of life while getting higher foreing wages.
Labour and goods and capital migrations have similar economics effects, but goods and capital movements do not create the same political resistance.
Dear Klara, the information about Chicken Watch is very useful, and I completely understand your specialization.
I am trying to spread the idea of taking animal welfare certification “in our own hands”, because I see it both possible and even financially self sustainable. So perhaps, somebody in the EA space will try to develop the idea.
Thank you very much for the good work,
It is really incredible. How many do they think care for seafood welfare? To be even modestly effective you shall certify popular animals.
Humane eggs or dairy for vegetarians is the first natural step. Free range ruminants, and perhaps, after that, free range pork or chickens. Seafood is probably the most intractable case.
EA tries taking rational though and ethics as the ideological basis for a community. Mankind need this, ASAP. On the other hand, details are messy, and from this idea you can end up devoting your life to the welfare of Shrimp.
The movement will split, stabilize and go from platonism to aristotelism. Meanwhile, it is important to be informed, promote good ideas and don’t put too much skin in the game.
Have you thougth on the development of your own certification system for animal welfare?
“Therefore, if we had a credible certification of the level of animal suffering in each product, omnivorous diets could be reshuffled to have a lower impact in terms of animal welfare. But there is a large institutional vacuum: the meat industry has no interest nor credibility, and the animalist organizations are vegan, and in the best of cases only willing to fight for animal welfare measures imposed by governments.”
Time ago, I took part in an exchange on risk aversion that can be useful.
“I remind you that “risk aversion” is a big deal in economics/finance because of the decreasing marginal utility of income. In fact, in economics and finance, risk aversion for rational agents is not a primitive parameter, but a consequence of the CRRA parameter of your consumption function. So I think risk aversion turns quite meaningless for non monetary types of loss.”
See here the complete exchange:
The concept is slippery: you really need to clarify “why utility is non convex” in the relevant variable? Risk aversion in economics is not primitive: it is derived from decreasing marginal utility of consumption...
Veganism is simply too extreme. We have been omnivorous with a tilt towards carnivorism until Neolitics. But there are enormous possibilities for substitution away of animal farmed products. That is a natural role for EA.
I totally agree with this. But while disappointment is sad, the the global ennui of our times is even worse. I hope you soon resume the pursuit of your own happiness, with the feeling of fulfilled duty.
I lack something in EA: what about being a farmer, a nurse or a policeman? As utilitarians, there shall be a message for the ample majority of the people, that shall do the “manteinance” work of civilization. For the majority of people, the main message of utilitarianism shall be to find private happiness (in non extractive ways). And in any case you never know when a “disproportionate impact” opportunity can arrive to your life.
Oh, sure. Many things can lead to degrowth, and some could be necesary. What I point out is that degrowth is allwayws a negative side consequence. You do not plan for it, you suffer it (the less, the better).
Economists often speak of “dematerialization” to refer to the natural trend of capitalism to increase GDP by unit of material input, both by increasing efficiency in inputs use and consumption substitution.
You can imagine a future where that people becomes more interested in virtual reality instead of physical consumption. That is a form of “dematerialization” but it cannot be considered degrowth (well, at least if our price indexes were properly constructed, that often is not the case).
But what shall be avoided at all costs, is people celebrating GDP contraction (=somebody’s income contraction).
All this EROI issues are far easier to follow when you use the inverse of EROI (energy auto consumption).
What about life expectancy by income bucket in the US? How objective is that relation?
It looks that income matters in the US, but then it does not matter across countries…
The US is an extremely diverse society, with extreme outcomes. You have a Bulgaria and a Denmark in each city, we have them in different countries. In fact the positive relation at the micro level between health and income shall be more relevant that aggregate comparisons, that can be extremely affected by ecological fallacies.
Of course, there is a lot causal reversion in the income—welfare relation; both people and countries that are richer are often better in extra economic terms.
But you cannot separate material and non material prosperity. It is the loop of activity and personal virtue what allows people to became affluent, and income gives the resources to have a fulfilling life.
What were the social and moral consequences of stagnating socialism in the USRR? Demoralization and collapse.
Macro growth can be disputed, because is removed from personal experience, but parents always try to put their children in the path of (micro) growth…
Objective measures of subjetive welfare?
The problem with macro GDP skepticism is that it implies micro personal income skepticism, and that is totally implausible (among other consequences of personal income skepticism, imagine how irrelevant becomes unequality for USA where more than 20.000 per capita income is so prevalent).
Those who tell me that more income will not make me happier are telling me that I do not know how to use additional freedom. It is a very marxist position: as (Groucho) Marx said: “Who are you going to believe, me, or your lying eyes?””
Regarding Spain, of course, many British people retire here: you have the Sun, the sunny people, and structural unemployment levels (or the realtive lack of tech and other “high end” jobs) do not affect you.
Of course not. There can be substantial externalities and zero sum games related to IA, as to any other tecnology. AI is like the “internal combustion engine”. But “income” is a direct input for human welfare.
You can consider that externalities are not properly priced, and that natural resources are too cheap because their owners have too high discount rates. Then you need to tax both things to limit the resource use/ externality production.
Still, after you have put this “extra market” constraints in the economy, you want maximum GDP (that is more or less, the “aggregate” budget contraint). More degrees of freedom are inescapably “good”, and that is what growth give us.
When you are against GDP, you are against people.
I will give a simple answer to this:
a) Economic growth is intrisically “good” (it expands budgets contraints-> improve invidividual welfare for each person with more income->increase total welfare for the society)
b) If economic growth has downsides, the downsides have to be adressed at the minimum cost in terms of “growth”.
You can accept degrowth, but you can never find it desirable. Any agenda for degrowth is masochistic.
Recently I wrote this piece that can of interest to you:
Veganism is too demanding (see retention rates), and even unnecesary (are ethical eggs truly impossible? Some degree of cruelty is unavoidable in dairy production, but probably the “net positive” milky cow could be attainable).
But lots of people would pay a substantial premium for more ethical animal products. Unfortunately, certifications are not very trustworthy.
In my view, the natural way forward is the creation of a parallel market of “high quality” and (more) ethical animal products. This is also the interest of the industry, as much as renewable electricity production is the interest of electrical utilities.
Currently, farms face cutthroat competition for a stagnant or decrasing share of GDP. But, “ethical and organical” imply true growth perspectives for the sector. The consumer can pay it, and ethical concerns will fuel the whole process. Still, nobody is learning from the enormous sucess of “decarbonization”, when utilities understood that renewables were the goose of gold eggs.
I include links to my two old posts arguing for keeping AI development:
First I argued that AI is a necesary (almost irrepleaceable) tool to deal with the other existential risks (mainly nuclear war):
Then, that currently AI risk is simply “too low to be measured”, and we need to be closer to AGI to develop realistic alignment work:
Regarding research, I would say that each research line has some probability of success and some cost and probably an optimal research portfolio would include more or less four times more expenditure for type 2 diabetes, but no zero expenditure for type 1. Choice under uncertainty imply some natural preference for diversity.
For deployment (suppose no uncertainty) you spend money in strict order or “welfare” or “additional life years” by dollar spent, so probably you would spend in an expensive cancer treatment for a young person, but the same money would not be spent in an old one.
So, yes, reality is diverse and that creates apparent diversity in expenditure even for a ruthless utilitarian with no intrinsic preference for diversity.