Rational Altruist

Adventures of a would-be do-gooder.

The value of prosperity

“Making the world richer” seems like a useful abstraction for thinking about impact; I’m quite interested in understanding how valuable making the world richer actually is.

For concreteness and simplicity, I want to think about an across-the-board change, where everyone’s real income increases by 1% (due to some exogenous increase in supply, improvements in efficiency, or whatever). Of course no intervention would have such a simple effect. But nevertheless it seems like a good starting point for similar analyses. Read the rest of this entry »

Making people richer

Many interventions seem to have the effect of “making people richer.” In addition to understanding the long-run impacts of prosperity, I am interested in looking in more detail at what happens when you make someone richer, and looking at a few examples to understand whether the intuitive model of a small across-the-board increase in real income is reasonable.

As a first example, I’ll look at cash transfers in the developing world. I think very similar ideas are needed for the analysis of many interventions in the developing world (e.g. health interventions) and also for many interventions in the developed world (e.g. supporting self-driving cars). But it seems useful to first go through the analysis with a particular case in mind. Read the rest of this entry »