James Herbert

Co-director @ Effective Altruism Netherlands
1453 karmaJoined Working (6-15 years)Amsterdam, Netherlands



I'm currently a co-director at EA Netherlands (with Marieke de Visscher). We're working to build and strengthen the EA community here.

Before this, I worked as a consultant on urban socioeconomic development projects and programmes funded by the EU. Before that, I studied liberal arts (in the UK) and then philosophy (in the Netherlands).

Hit me up if you wanna find out about the Dutch EA community! :)


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But absolute terms isn’t very useful if we’re trying to spot success stories, right? Or am I misunderstanding something?

But yeah, something seems off about Ireland. The rest of the list feels quite good though. David Moss said they have some per capita estimates in the pipeline, so I’m excited to see what they produce!

I wanted to figure out where EA community building has been successful. Therefore, I asked Claude to use EAG London 2024 data to assess the relative strength of EA communities across different countries. This quick take is the result. 

The report presents an analysis of factors influencing the strength of effective altruism communities across different countries. Using attendance data from EA Global London 2024 as a proxy for community engagement, we employed multiple regression analysis to identify key predictors of EA participation. The model incorporates geographic, economic, linguistic, and social factors, explaining 52.3% of the variance in per capita attendance. 


Data Source

  • Per capita attendance at EAG London 2024 for 62 countries


  1. Geographic proximity (distance from London, UK)
  2. Economic development (GDP per capita)
  3. English language proficiency
  4. Income inequality (Gini coefficient)
  5. Youth population percentage
  6. Social media penetration
  7. Religiosity
  8. Trust in institutions
  9. Philanthropic culture

Analytical Approach

Multiple regression analysis with per capita EAG London 2024 attendance as the dependent variable

Key Findings

  1. Model Performance:
    • R-squared value: 0.523
    • The model explains 52.3% of the variance in per capita attendance
  2. Significant Predictors:
    • GDP per capita (positive relationship)
    • Distance from London (negative relationship)
    • Philanthropic culture (positive relationship)
    • Social media penetration (positive relationship)
    • English proficiency (positive relationship)
  3. Non-significant Factors:
    • Gini coefficient
    • Youth population percentage
    • Religiosity
    • Trust in institutions
  4. Top 10 Countries with Strongest EA Communities (based on positive residuals):
    1. Switzerland
    2. Norway
    3. Netherlands
    4. Estonia
    5. Sweden
    6. Singapore
    7. Finland
    8. Czech Republic
    9. Australia
    10. Ireland

Interpretation of Results

  1. Economic Factors: GDP per capita emerges as the strongest predictor of EA engagement, suggesting that economic development plays a crucial role in fostering EA communities.
  2. Geographic Considerations: Distance from London negatively correlates with engagement, which is expected given that the event was held in London. This finding should be interpreted cautiously: a) It may reflect the ease of attending for nearby countries rather than overall EA engagement. b) The strong performance of some distant countries (e.g., Australia, Singapore) suggests that highly engaged EA communities can overcome geographic barriers.
  3. Cultural Factors: A country's philanthropic culture strongly predicts EA engagement, highlighting the importance of pre-existing charitable inclinations.
  4. Technological Infrastructure: Social media penetration positively correlates with EA engagement, underscoring the role of online connectivity in community building.
  5. Language: English proficiency remains a significant factor, though its impact is less pronounced than economic and cultural variables.


  1. Proxy Measure: EAG attendance may not fully capture all forms of EA engagement.
  2. Single Time Point: The analysis is based on one conference in one year, potentially missing temporal variations.
  3. Unmeasured Variables: Other factors not included in the model may influence EA community strength.
  4. Linear Model Assumptions: The analysis assumes linear relationships, potentially missing complex interactions or non-linear effects.
  5. Host Country Bias: The UK's attendance is likely inflated due to hosting the event, potentially skewing overall results.

They were second largest in absolute terms, 214 attendees. But that means only 0.6 per million, putting them in 24th place in the per capita ranking.

In absolute terms, the top 4 ranking was: UK (675), US (214), DE (95), NL (61). Why am I giving a top 4 ranking instead of a top 3 ranking? No reason...  

A great post-mortem, and thanks for your kind words about the Dutch EA community - it was really inspirational to see you in action! 

Your line, "Spending aid money to prevent migration is a vote winner, vaccinating needy kids in Africa is not" made me think of the Make Poverty History campaign, timed to coincide with the UK's hosting of the G8 in 2005.

According to Wikipedia, these were the main health and development agreements from that summit:

  • US$50 billion pledged (some of it previously announced) in aid to developing countries by 2010, of which US$25 billion for Africa, on top of the ministerial-level agreement to forgive debt to Highly Indebted Poor Countries
  • Universal access to anti-HIV drugs in Africa by 2010
  • G8 members from the European Union committed to a collective foreign aid target of 0.56% of GDP by 2010, and 0.7% by 2015
  • Stated commitment to reduce subsidies and tariffs that inhibit trade

Also, from memory, I think most UK political parties committed to the target of spending 0.7% of national income on aid and, although this was rolled back for a bit under Johnson, the next Labour government have pledged to reinstate it. 

I think there's an argument to be made that these agreements were heavily influenced by the campaign. 

Blair, chair of the summit, notes the following in his biography: 

“On Africa, I knew that without real figures it was going to be another ‘poor Africa, we care so much about you’ load of old rubbish in a communiqué that wasn’t going to fool anyone. Bob, Bono and the NGO alliance had mounted an effective campaign, essentially going to each main nation in turn and trying to frighten the pants off the leadership by demonstrating the breadth of public support for action on Africa. It was done cleverly, with them always giving enough praise to the leaders to encourage them. With Bob and Bono at the helm, there would be a sensible debate. If we delivered, they’d say we’d delivered. If not, they would condemn us. Fair enough.”

Of course, this was a huge campaign: a global audience of approximately 3 billion for Live 8, millions of people wearing the campaign’s white band, a quarter of a million people marching on Edinburgh, and a brand recognition that leapt from zero to 90% in just six months. It would be a huge undertaking.[1] And one could argue that, 20 years on, the effects have died out. 

But then again, maybe not. I was 13 years old when I attended the march in Edinburgh, but it's one of my more vivid memories from that time. This early exposure likely contributed to my ongoing support for GHD through my donations and my work today, and I suspect it's the same for many other people.

  1. ^

    I asked Claude to produce a BOTEC for the cost and it arrived at $120 million

I had the same thought! If I haven't messed something up:

  • Anglosphere OECD: 4.03 EAs per million
  • Non-Anglosphere OECD: 2.96 per million

Yeah, I made a quick chart comparing anglosphere vs non-anglosphere

This is great! I think the survey team didn't do a per capita visualisation because response rates will probably vary a lot between countries for reasons other than the number of EAs per capita. 

To provide another data point, @Alix Pham from EA Switzerland put together a sheet with attendees per capita for EAG London this year and just now I made a quick chart. 

Obviously, due to the location of the event, some countries will be over-represented and others under-represented, but I think it might be a more accurate representation of per capita rates in Europe (with the exception of the UK). 


NB some of these countries have a very low number of attendees, e.g. Iceland only had one attendee. I made the below to visualise this.

Thanks Nicoll! There's much we can improve but I'm glad we've published something :)

Could this be added to the EA survey 2022 sequence? 

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