Is it fair to say that most social programmes don’t work?


Facts! Today’s needull looks rigorously on the claim that most social programmes do not work.

So is it fair to say “most social programmes don’t work?”

I think this is a little ambiguous and potentially misleading. Individual projects mostly don’t work, but whole areas often do have a positive impact. So, if you pick an intervention at random, then on average your impact will be positive, because there’s a small but important chance of you picking one of the good ones.

However, if you can focus on the best interventions in an area according to the evidence, then you can have significantly more impact than the average. For instance, if two thirds of interventions don’t work, then if you can avoid these, you’ll have about three times as much impact as if you work on whatever you first stumble into, and pick randomly.

The complete article

80,000 Hours

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