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In a world of remote working becoming more and more common, can relocation still result in a high expected additional impact counterfactually?

I mean I see that if I’m not willing to relocate I can easily not get a job vs someone who already lives there or willing to move all else equal. But does that also mean one less person will be working on the problem or just that someone else will be doing the same work instead of me.

My guess would be that it depends on the nature of the jobs, how competitive they are, whether someone with an altruistic mindset in these roles would highly boost the impact of the role and wheter other applicants also tend to have a similar altruistic mindset.

Obviously, if the nature of the jobs do not allow remote working, then it’s not a question. Otherwise:

  • If the roles are not competitive, you’ll likely get a pretty good one even if only willing to work remotely, so you’re not loosing much. Note however that you might need more competitive positions first to gain valuable experience which differentiates you later.

  • If the roles are competitive but other applicants tend not to have an altruistic mindset while that would be highly benefficial then it seems you’re loosing a lot. E.g. if not relocating results in 1/10 chance of getting a job, you might only get one after some years instead of some months which seem quite signifficant. And I’d guess you’ll also need to secure more than just a single job throughout your career.

  • If the roles are competitive and do not signifficantly benefit from altruistic mindset or the vast majority of applicants usually also have similar mindsets, then it does not even seem to be a question of relocation, counterfactual impact simply does not seem high anyway.

I was not able to find much research on this topic but would be very happy to get pointers. Other opinions and feedback on my guesses would also be welcome.




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I'm not sure about the counterfactual impact, but I want to point out the relocating is a very challenging situation for a lot of people - being uprooted and adapting to a new environment is very disruptive to one's life and can cause stress and worsen one's mental health. I really want to encourage everyone who thinks about moving, especially for the sake of impact, to think about this carefully and take it into account, before they find themselves halfway across the globe, in a different culture, with no social network or family.

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