- Two years into his philosophy PhD, Michael gave a talk on the best ways to improve global happiness at EA Global: London.
- He argued that philanthropists and policymakers have overlooked the social science research on happiness and, as a result, important global priorities such as mental health and chronic pain have been unduly neglected.
- The talk generated little response. Michael realised that many people are sceptical, or at least unfamiliar, with the idea that we can measure subjective experiences in a scientifically valid way.
- Michael addressed theoretical concerns about the nature and measurement of wellbeing in a talk at EAGxNetherlands.
- He argued that impact should be measured using subjective wellbeing questions such as “Overall, how satisfied are you with your life, nowadays?” (0 – 10) rather than relying on objective indicators of health and wealth.
- This did spark interest. A group of volunteers began the Mental Health Programme Evaluation Project to find the best charities working on mental health in low-income countries.
- We published a scoping report on pain and a meta-analysis showing that cash transfers have a small but significant effect on subjective wellbeing.
- We estimated the moral weights of averting deaths and reducing poverty using WELLBYs.
- We published working papers on the plausibility of life satisfaction theories and the cardinality of subjective scales.
Phase 1 completed
- Our cash transfers meta-analysis was published in Nature Human Behaviour
- We completed the first phase of our research agenda, evaluating four promising interventions in terms of wellbeing: cash transfers, psychotherapy, deworming pills, and antimalarial bednets.
- In November, we published our first annual charity recommendation. Our current top charity is StrongMinds, a non-profit that is scaling up effective depression treatment for women in Uganda and Zambia.
*Due to internal team changes and evolving strategies, we’re merging the 2022 and 2023 Annual Reviews to accurately reflect our progress during this time. We expect to release a report covering 2022-3 in early 2024*
We have a pipeline of promising charities and interventions to analyse this year.
Interventions we plan to evaluate: Reducing air pollution, preventing childhood trauma, mental health apps, cataract surgery, and fistula repair surgery
We have a long list of charities and interventions that we won’t get to in 2023 but plan to examine in future years. Eventually, we plan to consider systemic interventions and policy reforms that could affect the wellbeing of larger populations at all income levels.