Where is Our Money Best Spent?

According to the Copenhagen Consensus 2008 Conference, supplying the micronutrients vitamin A and zinc to 80% of the 140 million children who lack them in developing countries would give you the most bang for the buck -- The cost is $60 million per year and the benefits to the health and cognitive development of the children are over $1 billion.

The Conference was comprised of eight leading economists (including 5 Nobel-prize winners). They were asked to prioritize 30 different proposals to solve ten of the world's biggest problems, which were researched and developed by more than 50 specialist scholars over the past two years. Since such proposals would be constrained by funding, the Conference put one restriction on the solutions -- a maximum budget of $75 billion over four years.

The rest of the top ten included: (2) widening free trade; (3) fortifying foods with iron and iodized salt; (4) expanded immunization coverage of children; (5) biofortification; (6) deworming; (7) lowering the price of schooling; (8) increasing girls' schooling; (9) community-based nutrition promotion; and (10) support for women's reproductive roles.

What about global warming, widely considered to be the number one most important issue for global welfare? It fell to number 30, the lowest priority. While the economists recognized the threat, the sad fact is that $75 billion would be a negligible amount in dealing with the issue. Apparently, the experts found that spending $800 billion until 2100 would yield just $685 billion in climate change benefits. That is, negative "bang" for the buck.
Hat tip to Ronald Bailey.