80,000 Hours

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80,000 Hours is an Oxford-based organization that conducts research on the careers with the greatest positive social impact and provides careers advice to people who want to use their careers to have a positive impact in the world. It provides this advice online, through one-on-one advice sessions and through a community of like-minded individuals. The organization is part of the Centre for Effective Altruism, affiliated with the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics.[1] The organization's name refers to the typical amount of time someone spends working over a lifetime.[2]


According to 80,000 Hours, some careers aimed at doing good are far more effective than others. On their framework for assessing different career options, the value of a career is regarded as depending on both its potential for impact and on the degree to which it gives the individual better opportunities to have an impact in the future.[3]

The group emphasizes that the positive impact of choosing a certain occupation should be measured by the amount of additional good that is done as a result of this choice, not by the amount of good directly done.[4] It considers indirect ways of making a difference, such as earning a high salary in a conventional career and donating a portion of it, as well as direct ways, such as scientific research. The moral philosopher Peter Singer mentions the example of banking and finance as a potentially high impact career through such donations in his TED Talk, "The why and how of effective altruism," where he discusses the work of 80,000 Hours. [5]


Members of 80,000 Hours must "use [their] career[s], at least in part, in an effective way to make the world a better place."[2] The only formal requirement is that they report on their altruistic activities once a year.


80,000 Hours has promoted the idea that pursuing a high-earning career and donating a significant portion of the income to cost-effective charities can do a lot of good. John Humphrys criticized this idea on the BBC Today programme, saying that the sort of people who are interested in making a lot of money tend to be selfish, and that idealistic young people will become cynical as they age.[6]

This idea was also criticised in the Oxford Left Review, where Pete Mills wrote that lucrative careers perpetuate an unjust system.[7] In addition, he feels that because the likelihood of bringing about social change is difficult to quantify, 80,000 Hours is biased toward quantifiable methods of doing good.

David Brooks of The New York Times has criticized the organization for its consequentialist approach to altruism and has argued that cultivating altruism is not purely a matter of maximizing one's positive social impact.[8]

Similar resources

See also


  1. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named 80k-history
  2. 2.0 2.1 "FAQ". 80,000 Hours. http://80000hours.org/faq. Retrieved 2012-10-29. ; "Impact investing: the big business of small donors". Euromoney. http://www.euromoney.com/Article/3044777/Impact-investing-the-big-business-of-small-donors.html. Retrieved 2012-10-31.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "80k-faq" defined multiple times with different content
  3. "Research". 80,000 Hours. http://80000hours.org/research. Retrieved 2014-01-17. 
  4. Sebastian Farquhar. "The replaceability effect: working in unethical industries part 1". http://80000hours.org/blog/35-the-replaceability-effect-working-in-unethical-industries-part-1. Retrieved 2012-10-31. 
  5. Peter Singer. "The why and how of effective altruism". http://www.ted.com/talks/peter_singer_the_why_and_how_of_effective_altruism.html. Retrieved 2013-12-27. 
  6. Template:Cite interview
  7. Mills, Pete (May 2012). "The Ethical Careers Debate". The Oxford Left Review (7): 4–9. http://oxfordleftreview.wordpress.com/2012/07/05/olr-issue/. Retrieved 25 October 2012. 
  8. Brooks, David. "How to Produce a Person". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/04/opinion/brooks-the-way-to-produce-a-person.html.