Our story so far
- 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 announced our official launch as an organisation in June.
- Michael completed his PhD and joined the Charity Entrepreneurship incubation program.
- Michael gave talks on measuring and maximising what matters in Singapore and Australia.
- 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.
- We published our second scoping report, this time on mental health.
- We compared the cost-effectiveness of cash transfers and psychotherapy in terms of subjective wellbeing.
- We ran our first summer research fellowship with six fellows.
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.
We have a pipeline of promising charities and interventions to analyse this year.
Charities we plan to evaluate: CorStone (resilience training), Friendship Bench (psychotherapy), Lead Exposure Elimination Project (lead paint regulation), and Usona Institute (psychedelics research)
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.