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Ajeya comments on Contra the Giving What We Can pledge - Effective Altruism Forum

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Comment author: AlyssaVance 04 December 2016 09:34:01PM 0 points [-]

I don't think it's at all clear that the people Michael highlighted are a small minority as a percentage of deeply committed EAs. A small minority among all Westerners, sure, but that's not the relevant reference class.

(Thanks for the link BTW, have added to the post)

Comment author: Ajeya 04 December 2016 10:47:23PM *  2 points [-]

It seems like "deeply committed" is doing a lot of work there. In the last EA survey, it seemed like the median donation from a person who identified as "EA", listed "earning to give" as their career, was not a student, and believed they should give now rather than give later was $1933. At typical starting software engineer salaries (which I would guess is a typical career for a median "earning to give" EA), this represents a 1-5% donation. This suggests the pledge would increase the donations of over 50% of EAs who list their primary career path as earning to give (so the argument that the mental effort needed to keep the pledge would distract from their careers doesn't apply). Link to analysis here: https://www.facebook.com/bshlgrs/posts/10208520740630756?match=YnVjayBzaGxlZ2VyaXMsc2hsZWdlcmlzLHN1cnZleSxidWNr

Edit: Speaking for myself only, not my employer.

Comment author: Dan_Keys 05 December 2016 01:14:55AM 7 points [-]

It appears that this analysis did not account for when people became EAs. It looked at donations in 2014, among people who in November 2015 were nonstudent EAs on an earning to give path. But less than half of those people were nonstudent EAs on an earning to give path at the start of 2014.

In fact, less than half of the people who took the Nov 2015 survey were EAs at the start of 2014. I've taken a look at the dataset, and among the 1171 EAs who answered the question about 2014 donations:
40% first got involved in EA in 2013 or earlier
21% first got involved in EA in 2014
28% first got involved in EA in 2015
11% did not answer the question about when they got involved in EA

This makes all of the analyses of median 2014 donation extremely misleading, unless they're limited to pre-2014 EAs (which they generally have not been).

I'm hoping that the next EA survey will do better with this issue. I believe the plan is to wait until January in order to ask about 2016 donations, which is a good start. Hopefully they will also focus on pre-2016 EAs when looking at typical donation size, since the survey will include a bunch of new EAs who we wouldn't necessarily expect to see donating within their first few months as an EA.

(Also speaking for myself only, not my employer.)

Comment author: Ajeya 05 December 2016 07:16:03PM 0 points [-]

Thanks Dan! I didn't know this, I'll look more closely at the data when I get the chance.