Economics - General

Give now

Let’s say that you’re a billionaire. Should you donate to charity now or wait until you die and then donate? If you believe in Effective Altruism, this depends on whether the value of your donation is higher now or in the future. One could argue that you should donate now since in the future–assuming progress–people will be richer. On the other hand, one could argue that in the future technology and innovation will progress so a $1 donation will be able to do more.

Alexander Berger at Open Philanthropy argues that the answer is, you should donate now. From an interview with The Browser.

…I think the world basically is getting better, at least from the perspective of global health, and giving opportunities should continue to get worse over time. ​​Today, the marginal opportunities to save the life of a kid are in the range of $5,000. When we were rolling out the first generation of vaccines that were covering kids in low income countries in the 1990s with UNICEF, the cost to save a life was at least several times less than that, maybe even less. And in 1950, the opportunity to eradicate smallpox was still ahead of a prospective donor.
And that’s not just inflation. Globally, we’re bidding out the curve of giving opportunities. And I think that’s awesome. Fewer kids are dying as a result of that. But it means that, in the near term, the moral value of money won’t just increase over time with investment returns.

Read the full interview here.

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