Co-Director of EA NYC, under CEA Community Building Grant until August 2022.
While I can’t find any EA work on economic policy in poor countries, two Charity Entrepreneurship incubated charities are working on health policy:
Lead Exposure Elimination Project (LEEP) has been successfully lobbying to ban (and enforce bans) on lead paint in Malawi, and will attempt to repeat this work in other countries.
Policy Entrepreneurs Network is doing “microexperiments in the space of health policy in low and middle-income countries.”
I think the most obvious reason that this work isn’t happening is just that the EA community is overwhelmingly concentrated in richer countries, and it’s really hard to work on policy change without having local understanding and context. LEEP has had success but it’s likely because they are focused on such a niche and unpolarized issue, with almost no significant stakeholders that would be against this policy. Economic policies like the ones you mention are probably going to be incredibly difficult for even experienced policy people from the countries they are working in, let alone for EAs with no experience in those countries. It would also be difficult for funders like Open Phil to evaluate which grants are more or less likely to succeed, since their staff doesn’t have experience in these countries.
Of course, none of these barriers are an excuse for not focusing on this topic, if the expected impact is very high. The longer-term solution here is probably to encourage EAs studying and/or working in poorer countries to consider policy careers, and for EA funders like Open Phil to focus on developing capacity/expertise in these countries (looks like they’re doing this with the new South Asian air quality program), or to partner with other organizations that have more knowledge in the area.
Final note: J-PAL and IPA have obviously been working on this for a while, though they might be pursuing smaller-scale economic policy changes than you’re suggesting.
Just wanted to flag a new development on the topic: it looks like US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is pushing for a global minimum corporate tax, which might be another good solution to the problem!
I recently started a US Policy newsletter called High Impact Policy Review (aka HIPR), where I cover policy news related to lots of effective altruism-related cause areas!
It would be fantastic if we could set up RSS feeds for individual tags!
Giving Green should be added to that list of EA-aligned charity evaluators—they provide recommendations for high-impact giving in the climate change space (which is probably particularly helpful given how much corporate giving/CSR is focused on climate change)! They also state on their website that they “provide bespoke consulting services to organizations who want to bring more data and evidence to their pro-climate activities”—so they might be able to provide research tailored to different companies needs, or to your new nonprofit!
You mentioned in your 2021 update that you’re starting a research internship program next year (contingent on more funding) in order to identify and train talented researchers, and therefore contribute to EA-aligned research efforts (including your own). Besides offering similar internships, what do you think other EA orgs could do to contribute to these goals? What do you think individuals could do to become skilled in this kind of research and become competitive for these jobs?
I started as the full-time Co-Director of EA NYC two months ago! Since Aaron Mayer and I started, we’ve accomplished a bunch of things, including launching a new website (just published yesterday!), starting 1-1 calls, a NYC job board (updated weekly), and our new Rings program to help EA NYCers start projects together! I’m loving the new job and am really excited about what we’ve been able to do in such a short time :) Hopefully the coming 10 months are just as productive!
Btw we are still taking applications for Rings, if anyone is interested in applying—since it will be all remote for now anyways, we are happy to have non-NYC people apply (though being able to meet during EST-friendly times will be helpful).
Interesting results. I personally do like the moral duty option—I think it does have a pretty different connotation than an obligation. Obligation suggest something forced upon you by outside forces, while moral duty suggests something done out of a sense of responsibility, but more joyfully and consciously chosen.
I’m just wondering why Muslim is not an option for the religious beliefs question? This seems like a silly oversight since it is a major religion.
I was also interested in this book—I’ve ordered a copy and I’m excited for it to arrive! The news that they haven’t replied to questions about the data is disappointing but I think there is still value in the book. Particularly, on the “solutions” page on the site, they state: “The list is comprised primarily of “no regrets” solutions—actions that make sense to take regardless of their climate impact since they have intrinsic benefits to communities and economies.”
Considering some of the solutions that actively make lives better (such as educating girls, or more effective farming practices) as well as reduce emissions could be a good way for EA to approach climate change. Considering these combined benefits could help us assess the effectiveness of interventions on multiple scales, such as QALY’s saved as well as emissions reduced. This could make global warming solutions more attractive across various branches of EA, since many of the solutions overlap with other cause areas, and considering the benefits to both causes might lead us to realize that some interventions are more effective than we previously thought.
I’ve been thinking about this as well lately, specifically in terms of reducing hatred and prejudice (racism, sexism, etc). For example, this is anecdotal, but one (black) man named Daryl Davis says that he has gotten more than 200 KKK members to disavow the group by simply approaching them and befriending them. Over time they would realize that their views were unfounded, and gave up their KKK membership of their own volition. This is an interview with Davis: http://www.npr.org/2017/08/20/544861933/how-one-man-convinced-200-ku-klux-klan-members-to-give-up-their-robes and I think there is also a documentary about him.
This is a great Vox article about a study that discusses ways to reduce people’s biases: https://www.vox.com/identities/2016/11/15/13595508/racism-trump-research-study. The article title is about reducing racism, though the study discussed is about views on transgender people. It suggests that just a 10-min, open conversation can significantly reduce people’s biases, and that these changes persist.
And lastly, another anecdotal story on how Derek Black, the godson of David Duke, and the son another very prominent figure in the alt-right, ended up leaving the alt-right after a group of diverse college classmates befriended him, and he slowly abandoned his previous views over the course of months.
While two of these links are to anecdotal stories, I think they are important in showing that even those with really extreme prejudice (KKK members and a young alt-right leader!) can let go of their prejudices when approached in the right way.
It definitely seems like an intervention that would require lots of grassroots, individual action, I suspect it could be very hard to measure the benefits of it—the amount of lives lost to this kind of prejudice and polarization is pretty low (at least in the US), and the other benefits that would arise are hard to measure. If someone else has good estimates on how impactful this would be, I’d love to hear them! Regardless I’m very excited to see some interventions in reducing prejudice and hatred that do seem to actually work, though more study into this is definitely necessary!