In this substantial update to our work on psychotherapy we conduct a systematic review, a meta-analysis, and cost-effectiveness analyses of two charities who deliver psychotherapy (StrongMinds and Friendship Bench). This is a working report that will be updated over time, results may change.
We set out our research priorities.
On the 2nd of June 2023, Elie Hassenfeld was interviewed on the 80'000 hours podcast. Here, we present our responses.
In this shallow cause exploration, we explore the impact of lead exposure on subjective wellbeing. We review the literature, model the impact of lead exposure on wellbeing, and conduct some back-of-the-envelope calculations of the cost-effectiveness of various interventions to decrease lead exposure.
We present a pilot of 50 survey questions we intend to use to assess questions of comparability, linearity, and neutrality in subjective wellbeing measurements.
In this shallow cause exploration, we explore the impact of immigration on subjective wellbeing. We review the literature, model the impact of immigration on wellbeing, and conduct some back-of-the-envelope calculations of the cost-effectiveness of various interventions to increase immigration.
In this shallow cause exploration, we explore the relationship between pain and subjective wellbeing; assess the severity and scale of chronic pain in terms of life satisfaction; and offer some novel back-of-the-envelope calculations for the cost-effectiveness of several interventions to treat pain.
In this report, we summarise the debate about the efficacy of deworming, present the first analysis of deworming in terms of subjective wellbeing, and compare the cost-effectiveness of deworming to StrongMinds (our current top recommended charity).
How should we compare the value of extending lives to improving lives? Doing so requires us to make various philosophical assumptions, either implicitly or explicitly. But these choices are rarely acknowledged or discussed by decision-makers, all of them are controversial, and they have significant implications for how resources should be distributed.
We raise twelve critiques of GiveWell’s cost-effectiveness analyses. Ten apply to specific inputs for malaria prevention, cash transfers, and deworming. Two are relevant for more than one intervention.
We propose the wellbeing-adjusted life year (WELLBY), the wellbeing equivalent of the DALY or QALY, as the obvious framework to do cost-effectiveness analyses of non-health, non-pecuniary benefits.
We make four recommendations to improve GiveWell’s cost-effectiveness analyses: (1) publicly explain and defend their assumptions about the effect of deworming over time; (2) explain their cost-effectiveness analyses in writing; (3) illustrate the sensitivity of their results to key parameters; (4) make it clear when an estimate is subjective or evidence-based.
This post is a philosophical review of Open Philanthropy’s Global Health and Wellbeing Cause Prioritisation Framework, the method they use to compare the value of different outcomes. In practice, the framework focuses on the relative value of just two outcomes, increasing income and adding years of life.
This post explores and evaluates an internal bargaining approach to moral uncertainty. On this account, the appropriate decision under moral uncertainty is the one that would be reached as the result of negotiations between agents representing the interests of each moral theory, who are awarded resources in proportion to your credence in that theory.
Progress Studies has been popularised by academics such as Tyler Cowen and Steven Pinker. However, the Easterlin Paradox presents a real challenge to the claim that if we want more progress, we just need to improve the long-run growth rate - a view that Cowen argues for in his book Stubborn Attachments.
We update our previous analysis to incorporate the household spillover effects for cash transfers and psychotherapy. We estimate that psychotherapy is 9 times (95% CI: 2, 100) more cost-effective than cash transfers. The charity StrongMinds is estimated to be 9 times (95% CI: 1, 90) more cost-effective than the charity GiveDirectly.
Drawing on evidence from over 80 studies and over 140,000 participants, we compare the cost-effectiveness of cash transfers and psychotherapy by estimating their effect on the recipient's subjective wellbeing and affective mental health.
This report explains how we determined the cost-effectiveness of StrongMinds using subjective wellbeing and affective mental health.
This report explains how we determined the cost-effectiveness of group or task-shifted psychotherapy in low- and middle-income countries using subjective wellbeing and affective mental health.
This report explains how we determined the cost-effectiveness of cash transfers using subjective wellbeing and affective mental health.
This report investigates the global burden of mental illness. It sets out how big the problem is, how much spending it receives, and how those resources are allocated. It then focuses specifically on what can be done to reduce anxiety and depression in low-income countries.
We set out our research priorities.
There are long-standing doubts about whether data from subjective scales are cardinally comparable—should we, for instance, believe that if two people self-report their happiness as '7/10' then they are as happy as each other? It is unclear how to assess whether these doubts are justified without first addressing two unresolved theoretical questions: how do people interpret subjective scales, and which assumptions are required for cardinal comparability? This working paper offers answers to both.
Millions suffer excruciating pain. Millions more suffer moderate or severe pain. They suffer despite the fact that cheap and effective treatments exist. This report briefly discusses the measurement of pain then explores three major causes of pain and what might be done to relieve them.
This short article summarises what philosophers do (and don't) mean by the term "wellbeing". It introduces the three main rival accounts of what wellbeing is and considers their theoretical strengths and weaknesses.
We show how Wellbeing-Adjusted Life Years (WELLBYs) can be used to estimate the value of different outcomes. We then estimate the values of two key inputs in GiveWell’s analysis: doubling consumption for one person for one year and averting the death of a child under 5 years old.
This working paper makes three main claims: 1) life satisfaction theories are indistinguishable from global desire theories; 2) these theories are the only subjectivist accounts of wellbeing; and 3) subjectivism is implausible, although for different reasons from those that are usually given.
We set out our research priorities.
In his DPhil thesis, Michael Plant critiques and develops claims about how individuals can do the most good including discussion of the value of saving lives, how best to improve lives, and cause prioritisation methodology.
This article gives a brief introduction to the measurement of wellbeing and how to compare the impact of various outcomes, such as improving health or reducing poverty.