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Breaking DALYs down into YLDs and YLLs for intervention comparison

Sebastian Farquhar and Owen Cotton-Barratt Summary Global public health remains a top contender for the best way to improve welfare through aid. Within health interventions, it is natural to allocate marginal spending to avert the most expected DALYs (disability adjusted life-years) per dollar.1 However, not all DALYs are the same and there are important differences […]

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Neutral hours: a tool for valuing time

Owen Cotton-Barratt Prioritisation is mostly about working out how to trade different resources off against one another. Prioritisation problems come at different scales: for individuals, for companies or organisations, for the world at large. At the Global Priorities Project we’re mostly interested in the large-scale questions. But we sometimes have something to say about smaller […]

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Allocating risk mitigation across time – FHI technical report

Owen Cotton-Barratt has just released a Future of Humanity Institute technical report on the strategic considerations in the timing of work on catastrophic risks such as artificial intelligence- “Allocating risk mitigation across time”. From his abstract: This article is about priority-setting for work aiming to reduce existential risk. Its chief claim is that all else […]

Give now or later? What to do when the order of your actions matters

Owen Cotton-Barratt and Ben Todd This post was produced in collaboration with 80,000 Hours. The introduction, below is also available on 80,000 Hour’s website. The detailed methodological considerations supporting it are below. These considerations can be easily extended to a wide range of similar applications, including the rate at which foundations spend down their reserves. […]

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Cost-effectiveness and scale: cause area and intervention

Owen Cotton-Barratt When we choose between giving time or money to different interventions, we’re making a comparison. It’s nice to know what these comparisons come down to. There are a lot of sources of evidence, and different ones will be more appropriate in different contexts. Say we are comparing between intervention x in cause area […]

Some mistakes have more slack than others

Why we should err in both directions

Owen Cotton-Barratt This is an introduction to the principle that when we are making decisions under uncertainty, we should choose so that we may err in either direction. We justify the principle, explore the relation with Umeshisms, and look at applications in priority-setting. Some trade-offs How much should you spend on your bike lock? A […]