Bang for the buck: poverty, saving lives, and wasted spending

David Richards, Defeating Global Poverty, has this nice list about spending vs. effectiveness on key global issues – bang for the buck.

  • Terrorism. Transnational terrorism has taken an average of 420 lives per year vs. 30,000 lost lives on USA highways each year. More than $10B/year is spent on anti-terrorism and the number of deaths/year is increasing.
  • Climate Change. Investing money on emissions reductions will net $0.90 for every $1, while investing in R&D for clean energy will return $11 for every $1 invested.
  • Child Mortality. 10 million children will die this year in poor nations … this would be reduced to 1 million if child mortality rates were the same as rich countries.
  • Heart Disease. In many poor countries, heart disease causes more than 25% of deaths. Much of this is due to lack of unavailability of cheap drugs. Investing $200M/year in these countries would result in 300,000 fewer deaths per year … about $650/life.
  • Malaria. Investing $500M/year in bed nets and new anti-malarial drugs would save 500,000 lives per year about $100/life.
  • General Health. Each dollar invested in helping people to be healthier and more productive would generate $20 in benefits.
  • Malnutrition. Malnutrition will claim 3.5M lives this year. Most survivors of malnutrition have life-long consequences including lower productivity, and physical and mental impairments.

Read Richards’ whole list at bang for the buck.

The top five ways to help the poor according to the Copenhagen Consensus:

  1. Vitamin A and Z suplements
  2. Doha trade round
  3. Iron supplements and salt iodization
  4. Expanded Youth Immunization
  5. Biofortification of feed stocks

One thought on “Bang for the buck: poverty, saving lives, and wasted spending

  1. Henry Galt says:

    CO2 output is a wonderful way to help the poor – free fertilizer. Such a shame that because it is getting colder now (and will continue to do so for many decades) the supply will shrink even if humans produce more than the current 3% of the total.

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