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GiveWell's Cost-Effectiveness Analyses

Updated: May 2018

2018 Cost-Effectiveness Model

Last Updated: May 3, 2018

In 2018, we will be publishing frequent updates to our model. The most recent version of the 2018 model can be accessed via the links below. Earlier versions of the 2018 model are accessible via links in the changelog.

Our Approach to Cost-Effectiveness Estimates

Our cost-effectiveness analyses are an important input into our charity recommendations. We view cost-effectiveness analyses as valuable for helping us identify large differences in the cost-effectiveness of organizations we're considering for a recommendation and to encourage staff to think through relevant issues related to charities' work. However, although we spend significant staff time on our cost-effectiveness analyses, we consider our cost-effectiveness numbers to be extremely rough. We do not make charity recommendations solely on the basis of cost-effectiveness calculations and will rely heavily on other factors, such as an organization's track record, when we are comparing organizations with cost-effectiveness estimates that are not very different.

The model relies on individuals' philosophical values—for example, how to weigh increasing a person's income relative to averting a death—and difficult judgment calls about which we have limited information, such as the likelihood that a program as it is implemented will have the same impact as the program when it was studied. We encourage those who are interested to make a copy of the model and edit it to account for their own values. We also strongly encourage those who use our research to read more about our approach to cost-effectiveness.

Video Walkthrough

We made a video walkthrough to help explain how our cost-effectiveness model works, based on the final 2016 version of the model. Our intention in publishing this is to improve our transparency by making this model easier to understand, but because we're speaking off the cuff, it's possible that there are minor errors.

We recommend watching the video in HD in full screen to be able to see the details.

Past Cost-Effectiveness Analyses

2017 Cost-Effectiveness Analyses

Version 5 — Published November 27, 2017

Version 4 — Published November 8, 2017

Version 3 — Published October 27, 2017

Version 2 — Published August 16, 2017

Version 1 — Published May 20, 2017

2016 Cost-Effectiveness Analyses

Final Analysis

  • Long-lasting insecticide-treated nets, deworming, cash transfers, and seasonal malaria chemoprevention – view or make an editable copy

Mid-year update

  • Long-lasting insecticide-treated nets, deworming, cash transfers, and iodine fortification – download file (.xlsx)

2015 Cost-Effectiveness Analyses

Final Analyses

2014 Cost-Effectiveness Analyses

Final Analyses

Interim Analyses

2013 Cost-Effectiveness Analyses

2012 Cost-Effectiveness Analyses

See also this blog post discussing our 2012 cost-effectiveness estimates.