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Will one of GiveWell's 2019 top charities be estimated as the most cost-effective charity in 2031?


GiveWell is a charity evaluator that recommends a shortlist of charities in the field of global development that have the greatest impact per marginal donation. Towards this end, they try to quantify the effects of different interventions by estimating a "cost per life saved" metric to compare them on.

While they warn against taking these cost-effectiveness estimates literally, these estimates do give a guideline to which interventions are most effective and a rough idea of how cost-effective we should expect interventions to be.

GiveWell usually updates its list of top charities on an annual basis. Will the most cost-effective charity on GiveWell's 2031 list, according to GiveWell's "cost per life saved" metric, be a charity that also appeared on the 2019 list of top charities?

GiveWell's 2019 top charities are:

  • Malaria Consortium
  • Against Malaria Foundation
  • Helen Keller International
  • Deworm the World Initiative
  • SCI Foundation
  • Sightsavers' deworming program[1]
  • END Fund's deworming program[1]
  • GiveDirectly

If the 2031 top charity with the highest estimated cost-effectiveness is on this list, the question resolves affirmative. If it is NOT on this list, the question resolves negative.

Some clarifications:

GiveWell usually releases its list of top charities near the end of the year, so when I say "2019 top charities", that refers to the list that was published near the end of 2019 and will probably remain unchanged throughout most of 2020.

If GiveWell ceases to exist or ceases to publish top charities, the question resolves as ambiguous.

If GiveWell no longer recommends any global poverty charities but still maintains a top charity list, the question resolves as negative.

If 2031's most cost-effective charity does not have the same name as any on the 2019 list, but came out of a 2019 charity being renamed, merged with another charity, or spun off, AND is being recommended on the basis of the same intervention as in 2019 (e.g., if Against Malaria Foundation merges with another charity but still produces bednets and is recommended for its bednet program), then the question resolves as affirmative.

If 2031's most cost-effective charity existed on the 2019 list but is no longer running the same type of intervention as it was in 2019, the question resolves as negative, on the basis that the charity is now meaningfully different. For example, if AMF is still recommended in 2031 but now it exclusively runs a malaria vaccine program instead of a bednets program, the question resolves as negative.

If GiveWell publishes multiple top-charity lists, then this question resolves affirmatively if at least one 2019 top charity appears on at least one of the 2031 lists AND is estimated to be the most cost-effective charity on that particular list (but not necessarily the most cost-effective across all lists).

[1] These charities have multiple programs. GiveWell's recommendation is for one specific program.

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