The GiveWell Blog

How this year’s winners of the Nobel Prize in Economics influenced GiveWell’s work

On Monday, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced that the development economists Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo, and Michael Kremer are this year’s recipients of the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel.

Banerjee, Duflo, and Kremer’s work to understand the global poor has influenced our research in myriad ways over the years. Some GiveWell staff cite Banerjee and Duflo’s 2011 book, Poor Economics, as a catalyst for their interest in working in global health and poverty alleviation. All three development economists have contributed to our understanding and prioritization of programs, including microfinance, education, and treating intestinal parasites.

The research of Michael Kremer and his co-author Ted Miguel has been especially critical in shaping our annual recommendations of outstanding charities and thus has guided the donations of many donors who rely on our work. Miguel and Kremer’s 2004 study on the impacts of treating intestinal parasites (deworming) and follow-ups to that work are the reason that we have included deworming programs on our very short list of top charities each year since 2011.

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You can save a life

We ask you, as a donor, to turn down some great pitches – “Your interest-free loan will help this person escape poverty forever,” “You can give a cow to a poor family for Christmas,” etc. – and give instead to charities that aren’t terribly good at storytelling. Why? It comes down to this. We think…

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Celebrated charities that we don’t recommend

Normally, we focus on identifying outstanding charities, and minimize the time spent on opaque or otherwise lackluster ones. But lately, we’ve gone into a bit more detail about our take on several of the best-known and most appealing charities out there. What all of the charities below have in common is that (a) we have…

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An essential question that no one is asking charities

If a charity demonstrates that its core program has changed lives in the past, is likely to change lives in the future, and gets great “bang for your buck,” is this enough reason to donate to it? We say no. The missing piece: Will more funding lead to more of the good program(s)? We generally…

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Denying the choice

GiveWell spends a lot of time on the question, “Should I give to charity A or charity B?” One of the things that has surprised us about the world of charity is how many people insist on answering, “Both” or “You can’t/shouldn’t be asking that question.” To them, all that matters is whether a charity…

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