[FoRK] Top 5 charitable opportunities

Gordon Irlam gordonipub2 at gordoni.com
Mon Apr 25 15:44:42 PDT 2011

On Sun, Apr 24, 2011 at 11:51 PM, J. Andrew Rogers
<andrew at ceruleansystems.com> wrote:
>> Look at tables 2 and 3.  They present 40 estimates of the value of a
>> life made by economists.  The vast majority of which lie in the range
>> $1-10m, and the geometric mean of which is $3m.
> What they are discussing and how you are interpreting it are two very different things -- did you read it? The above reference lends no material support to your assertion.

Confession.  I didn't read it all.  It is 125 pages!  But I wasn't
meaning to cite it for its original content (which has to do with
elasticity of the value of statistical life with income level), I
refered to it simply for tables 2 and 3 which have done the hard work
of collecting all the estimates of the value of statistical life made
by different authors.

> Are you dissatisfied with the much lower values that come from the previously touted references that you apparently did not read?

I don't see lower values.  Perhaps you can explain it.  But I wouldn't
be at all upset by them, since my real goal is simply one of gaining
understanding so that I can give appropriately.

>> Average that $8-12 cost out to $10.   Now take the $2m figure for the
>> value of life.  Divide it by $10, and you get a 1:200,000 value
>> multiplier as promised.
> Even if I accepted the $2m figure, you still won't arrive at the correct valuation by dividing that figure by the cost of a pill. The arithmetic does not work that way.

It is not cost per pill.  It is cost per HIV infection prevented.

> That aside, there should be mountains of empirical data to support this multiplier effect in this particular case ...

I did some research.  There isn't a lot of data on sex worker
interventions.  Possibly because it is illegal to support sex workers
and accept US government funds.

The one paper I found is:
    Modelling the impact and cost-effectiveness of the HIV
intervention programme amongst commercial sex workers in Ahmedabad,
Gujarat, India
    $56-219/case averted

The HIV prevelance rate amoungst sex workers is about a quarter that
in Gujarat as it is in Kenya, so you would expect interventions to be
four times as expensive in Gujarat.  That covers most of the
difference between these two data points.  The rest of the difference,
I have adjusted my estimate of the payoff ratio downwards by a factor
of two to 1:100,000.

If you find any other papers let me know.


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