Earning to give

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Earning to give involves deliberately pursuing a high-earning career for the purpose of donating a significant portion of earned income, typically because of a belief in effective altruism. Advocates of earning to give contend that maximizing the amount one can donate to charity is an important consideration for individuals when deciding what career to pursue.[1]

In the 1996 book Living High and Letting Die, the philosopher Peter Unger wrote that it was morally praiseworthy and perhaps even morally required for people in academia who could earn substantially greater salaries in the business world to leave academia, earn the greater salaries, and donate most of the extra money to charity.[2] Moral philosopher Peter Singer has laid the foundations for effective altruism and earning to give in his 1971 essay "Famine, Affluence and Morality" and since advocated for donating considerable amounts of one's income to effective charitable organizations.[3] Singer is a public proponent of effective altruism and endorsed earning to give in his 2013 TED talk.[4] Associate Professor in Philosophy at Oxford University William MacAskill promoted earning to give as one possible high impact career in several news articles and in his 2015 book Doing Good Better: Effective Altruism and a Radical New Way to Make a Difference.[5][6] MacAskill is the co-founder and president of 80,000 Hours, a nonprofit which conducts research on careers with positive social impact and provides career advice.[7] Initially, the organization recommended earning to give as a career path with a high impact potential for effective altruists.[8][9], though more recently it has deemphasised this approach, in favour of alternative paths like research, advocacy or policy reform.[10][11]


  1. Kristof, Nicholas (April 4, 2015). "The Trader Who Donates Half His Pay". New York Times. Retrieved April 10, 2015.
  2. Unger, Peter (1996). Living High and Letting Die. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0198026811.
  3. Wolfe, Alexandra (2015-04-03). "Peter Singer on the Ethics of Philanthropy". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2017-04-04.
  4. Singer, Peter, The why and how of effective altruism (in English), retrieved 2017-04-04
  5. "To save the world, don't get a job at a charity; go work on Wall Street". Quartz (in English). Retrieved 2017-04-04.
  6. MacAskill, William; MacAskill, William (2015-09-10). "Working for a hedge fund could be the most charitable thing you do". Washington Post (in English). ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2017-04-04.
  7. "Meet the team - 80,000 Hours". 80,000 Hours (in English). Retrieved 2017-04-04.
  8. "Why and how to earn to give - 80,000 Hours". 80,000 Hours (in English). Retrieved 2017-04-04.
  9. "Join Wall Street. Save the world". Washington Post. Retrieved 2017-04-04.
  10. "80,000 Hours thinks that only a small proportion of people should earn to give long term - 80,000 Hours". 80,000 Hours (in English). 2015-07-06. Retrieved 2017-11-30.
  11. "A list of the most urgent global issues". 80,000 Hours (in English). Retrieved 2017-11-30.