Why is Effective Altruism focused on the poorest and richest people?


It's interesting that effective altruism tends to focus on the world's poorest people (to help them) and the world's most privileged people (to help them to help others). Why not more action in the middle?

At the bottom end you get a big gain due to the logarithmically declining value of extra income. The world's poorest people benefit much much more from extra money/healthcare/etc.

At the top end you get a big gain due to the power law distribution of income, audience size, influence, useful output, and so on. The 7 million people in the top 0.1% have much much more capability to improve the world than the 7 million people in the very middle of those distributions.

Unless a similar underlying phenomenon is discovered that gives a powerful reason to focus on the middle, I expect we'll continue to see this U-shaped allocation of focus.


Comments 5


Thank you for sharing this information, you tell a crude reality. While it is true, that the exercise of altruism, of the richest benefits the poor; It is no less true that there is a huge gap that they give, even in the most thriving metropolitan areas. It seems that the current system works to make things that way. It takes more than the benefit of a few, we need solidarity hearts around each one of us. Otherwise, the gap between rich and poor will remain, we must work hard to develop our individualizes for the benefit of all.

03.09.2019 15:06
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Sometimes it just feels good to help a little. I donate money to a little boy in Africa through Childfund. It's not much money to me but it can help feed and cloth the little boy.

04.09.2019 13:20
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Have you ever given money to people on the streets?

04.09.2019 18:32
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A few times. I don't encounter that many where I live.

05.09.2019 07:00
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Interesting take. I would guess the microlending revolution could help “shallow out” the distribution a bit. And of course, the way that a society really gets wealthy is by expanding the stock of capital goods, which is a subtle process that takes time and probably why this focus on “charity from the super rich to the super poor” has done way less than the modernization of the the third world has to raise people out of poverty.

13.09.2019 04:25
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