AndrewPearson comments on The 2014 Survey of Effective Altruists: Results and Analysis - Effective Altruism Forum

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Comment author: AndrewPearson 17 March 2015 12:54:42AM 5 points [-]

"238 EAs in our sample donated 1% of their income or more, and 84 EAs in our sample give 10% of their income."

I was surprised by this. In particular, 22% (127/588) of people identifying as EAs do not donate. (Of course they may have good reasons for not donating, e.g. if they are employed by an EA charity or if they are currently investing in order to give more in the future). Do we know why so many people identify as EAs but do not presently donate?

Comment author: Bitton 17 March 2015 01:24:33AM 7 points [-]

Probably because the average age is so low (~25) - lots of students and people just starting out their careers.

Comment author: DavidMoss 17 March 2015 08:40:23AM 3 points [-]

The raw data seems to show that a lot of people who have donated zero have nevertheless pledged to donate a significant amount (e.g. everything above living expenses etc.).

Comment author: Joey 17 March 2015 01:53:13AM 6 points [-]

Because self-identifying as EA is a lot easier than being self-sacrificing and donating. I saw the numbers with students removed and they did not improve as much as you would think.

Comment author: Bernadette_Young 17 March 2015 02:09:55AM 3 points [-]

The survey question only asked if people though they could be described 'however loosely' as an effective altruist. I suspect this question did not perform as intended - we know it included people who said they not heard of the term.

Comment author: redmoonsoaring 17 March 2015 08:01:08PM 1 point [-]

we know it included people who said they not heard of the term.

People will say anything on surveys. Many respondents go through clicking randomly. You can write a question that says, "Please answer C," and >10% of respondents will still click something other than C.

Comment author: Tom_Ash  (EA Profile) 17 March 2015 08:41:11PM 2 points [-]

This year it might be worth including a mandatory questions saying something like "Check C to promise not to go through clicking randomly", both as a test and a reminder.

Comment author: ChrisSmith 20 March 2015 01:09:59AM *  2 points [-]

I regularly do this when designing consumer surveys as part of m professional work - the concern in those instances is that respondents are mainly completing the survey for a small monetary reward and so are incentivised to click through as fast as possible. To help my own survey development skills, I participate in several online panels and can confirm that whilst not exactly standard practice, a non-negligible proportion of online consumer surveys will include questions like this used to screen out respondents who are not paying attention.

This is less of a concern for the EA survey, but is almost costless to include such a screening question so seems like an easy way to help validate any resulting analysis or conclusions.

Comment author: jayd 19 March 2015 05:10:17PM 0 points [-]

What evidence could we get now or in the future that'd speak to the different hypotheses being offered in response to this?

Comment author: DavidMoss 19 March 2015 05:31:17PM *  2 points [-]

I think as it stands the evidence is already pretty good (on this particular question). I only skimmed through the zero donors briefly, and I may go through in more detail in the future, or someone else can do it, but I found that a pretty substantial majority of the zero donors were either students or on a "low income" based on my quick informal and pretty conservative coding of people as "low income" if they were on roughly the UK minimum wage or less. I would guesstimate at least around 70% were full time or "low income" by this measure. But I then went through counting those who had donated a significant sum in the past (roughly $1000 or higher) or had pledged more than 10% in the future, and again, this was a majority, including some people (roughly 10) who weren't in the student/low income group, so yet more were students or low income or pledged 10% or previously donated substantial amount.

I also extended this analysis to the people pledging <$500 but more than $0, and the figures were even more overwhelming: by my count roughly 90% were students or low income.

I'm being conservative given the rough nature of my coding and counting, but I think these figures are still too low, because I didn't count people who were on around $20,000 per year (which was quite a few, and still a lowish income), people who pledged 5% (which is still respectable) or just said something vague like "Yes" about future donations. Just to give a flavour of the pledges: a significant number were even higher than the GWWC pledge (i.e. for roughly every 2 people pledging 10%, within the zero donors, there was 1 pledging much more than that: 50% income, 90% income, everything above basic living expenses and so on). So far from being not-EAs at all, a lot of these people seem like exemplary EAs!

Comment author: jayd 19 April 2015 04:20:35PM 0 points [-]

I would guesstimate at least around 70% were full time or "low income" by this measure.

Is this is a typo? Do you mean "not full time" or not working or "full time students"?

Comment author: DavidMoss 20 April 2015 03:21:13PM 0 points [-]

Yeh, thanks for the spot, that is just a typo: it should be "full time students"

Comment author: Evan_Gaensbauer 18 March 2015 03:36:41AM 0 points [-]

I haven't looked at correlations between various data-sets yet, so I'm not confident. I'll update on this later. Anyway, many who took the survey are likely university students, including perhaps a disproportionate number of graduate students as effective altruism is skewed towards the academic world. This may delay who's in a good position to donate by a few years.