80,000 Hours

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80,000 Hours
Founded October 2011[1]
Founder William MacAskill and Benjamin Todd
Focus Social impact coaching
Origins Oxford, England, UK
Area served
Product Free, evidence-based career advice
Parent organization
Centre for Effective Altruism
Slogan We want to change the world by helping millions of people make more difference with their careers.[2]
Website 80000hours.org

80,000 Hours is an Oxford, UK-based organisation that conducts research on the careers with positive social impact and provides career advice. It provides this advice online, through one-on-one advice sessions and through a community of like-minded individuals. The organisation is part of the Centre for Effective Altruism, affiliated with the University of Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics.[1] The organisation's name refers to the typical amount of time someone spends working over a lifetime.[3] It was one of the nonprofits funded by startup accelerator Y Combinator in 2015.[4]


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.[5]

The group emphasises 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.[6] 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.[7]


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."[3] The only formal requirement is that they report on their altruistic activities once a year. William MacAskill is the Founder and President of 80,000 Hours,[8] the Co-founder and Vice-President of Giving What We Can,[9] and a Research Associate at the Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, Oxford University.[10]


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 be an effective philanthropic strategy for some people. John Humphrys criticised this idea on the BBC Today programme, saying that people interested in becoming wealthy tend to be selfish and that idealistic young people will become cynical as they age.[11]

This idea was also criticised in the Oxford Left Review, where Pete Mills wrote that lucrative careers perpetuate an unjust system.[12] In addition, he argues 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 criticised the organisation for its consequentialist approach to altruism and has argued that cultivating altruism is not purely a matter of maximising one's positive social impact.[13]

The effective altruism movement, of which 80,000 Hours is a part, has been strongly criticised by Ken Berger, the founder of Charity Navigator for its efforts to objectively compare and prioritise charitable causes, which he believes to be a subjective process that is the responsibility of individual donors. He refers to effective altruism as "defective altruism".[14][relevant? ]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Our Mission and History". 80,000 Hours. Retrieved 25 October 2012. 
  2. ^ "Our Mission and History". 80,000 Hours. Retrieved 24 October 2012. 
  3. ^ a b "FAQ". 80,000 Hours. Retrieved 29 October 2012. ; "Impact investing: the big business of small donors". Euromoney. Retrieved 31 October 2012. 
  4. ^ "Want To Make An Impact With Your Work? Try Some Advice From 80,000 Hours". TechCrunch. 4 August 2015. Retrieved 31 October 2015. 
  5. ^ "Research". 80,000 Hours. Retrieved 17 January 2014. 
  6. ^ Sebastian Farquhar. "The replaceability effect: working in unethical industries part 1". Retrieved 31 October 2012. 
  7. ^ Peter Singer. "The why and how of effective altruism". Retrieved 27 December 2013. 
  8. ^ "Meet the team". 80,000 Hours. Retrieved 4 April 2017. 
  9. ^ "The Team". Retrieved 16 October 2013. 
  10. ^ "William MacAskill, Research Associate". Retrieved 16 October 2013. 
  11. ^ Crouch, William; Hislop, Ian (22 November 2011). "BBC News - Today - Do bankers make the world better?". Today (Interview). John Humphrys. Retrieved 29 October 2012. 
  12. ^ Mills, Pete (May 2012). "The Ethical Careers Debate". The Oxford Left Review (7): 4–9. Retrieved 6 August 2014. 
  13. ^ Brooks, David (4 June 2013). "How to Produce a Person". The New York Times. p. A25. 
  14. ^ "The Elitist Philanthropy of So-Called Effective Altruism". Stanford Social Innovation Review.