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.
We aim to produce rigorous and useful research for decision-makers. In order to do that better, it would really help us to know what you thought of our work in 2022.
By: Barry Grimes
This year, four of our publications have been awarded prizes. In this post, we provide a summary of each piece and why the judges rated them so highly.
By: Barry Grimes
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).
Our charity recommendation for 2022 is StrongMinds, a non-profit that provides group psychotherapy for women in Uganda and Zambia who are struggling with depression.
If you want to maximise the impact of your charitable donations, is it better to give to charities that improve lives or extend lives?
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.
Given the current state of our moral knowledge, it is entirely reasonable to be uncertain about a wide range of moral issues. This paper considers the suggestion that appropriateness under moral uncertainty is a matter of dividing one’s resources between the moral theories in which one has credence, allowing each theory to use its resources as it sees fit.
By: Harry R. Lloyd
This month, we’re delighted to welcome three new members to our team: Dr Lily Yu (Grants Strategist), Dr Ryan Dwyer (Senior Researcher), and Rachel Strate (Operations Manager).
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.
We’re excited to introduce you to our 2022 cohort of summer research fellows who will be joining us in July and August for a seven-week paid internship. Their projects will help to deepen our understanding of the nature and measurement of wellbeing and identify cost-effective ways for individuals and governments to increase it.
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.
Our latest newsletter includes a review of our work in 2021 and explains how we've updated our cost-effectiveness comparison of psychotherapy and cash transfers to include an estimate of the effects on other household members.
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.
We’re excited to announce that we’ll be running our summer research fellowship again this year The fellowship ...
This report explains the common mistakes we make when predicting the intensity and duration of our own and others’ feelings and the implications this has for global priorities research.
By: Matthew Coleman
Comparing psychotherapy and cash transfers in terms of subjective well-being We’ve just published new ...
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.
The Mental Health Programme Evaluation Project (MHPEP) was an HLI-led volunteer project that ran from February 2019 to October 2021.The principal aim of the project was to identify and direct donations to highly impactful mental health programmes.
This year, we are running our first Summer Research Fellowship. We received over 60 applications for the ...
CLOSING SOON Come and work with us We’re expanding our team and we’re excited to advertise the following ...
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.
The Happier Lives Institute is searching for the best ways to measure and improve global well-being; we conduct ...
We're excited to share three new major pieces of work - on cash transfers, measuring well-being, and pain - which ...
We know that cash transfers reduce poverty, improve health and enhance education but what impact do they have on how people feel and think about their lives? We find that cash transfers have a small, positive effect on subjective wellbeing, one that lasts for several years.
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’ve made a lot of progress over the last three months, and we’re excited to share our latest research with you ...
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 hope you are keeping safe and well during this challenging period. We’ve been pleased to see that the effects ...
Our research falls into two streams. First, theoretical research into the nature and measurement of subjective ...
The story so far The Happier Lives Institute was formed in late 2018 by a group of committed individuals ...
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.