I am looking to ask the question below to be answered in a collaborative way. I am in two minds as to whether it might belong on a Stack Exchange site. On the one hand, Stack Exchange is well-suited to collaborative answers. On the other, I feel that the answers should be developed over time, ideally by several people (including me) working together, in a way which does not quite match Stack Exchange's more closed-answer model.

I am looking for empirical evidence that making direct monetary payments to targeted groups of deprived people - say paying all families living in a certain poor district fifty dollars every month, similar to a guaranteed basic income (see Wikipedia) or what the charity GiveDirectly does - can provide short to medium term political benefits to the government (local, regional, national, other) doing it, as well as under which circumstances the political benefits might be particularly high per dollar spent compared to other forms of subsidies or spending. Political benefits might include increased government popularity, increased political stability, decreased crime rates or decreased ethnic tension. Circumstances might include target group (urban community, rural community) and overall political situation and structure (form of goverment, economic climate, situation of peace or conflict). Dollars are used here as the typical reference currency. Potential sources of empirical evidence might include studies of Brazil's "Bolsa Família" programme.

If it is suitable for Stack Exchange then the question is, on which site should it be asked. If not, then I would love suggestions for a better home for it. Suggestions on the side as to how to improve the question are also welcome - I hope that what I want to achieve with the question is pretty clear.

  • As far as improvements go, it's not totally clear from the question whether you're specifically looking for evidence in favour of GiveDirectly's model (for the purpose of advocacy, or to provide a different perspective after encountering lots of evidence going the other way) or whether you're looking for evidence in either direction. You make it sound somewhat more like the former, but that could be because you're genuinely only asking for one side of the evidence or because you already believe that GiveDirectly is effective and have assumed that the evidence will support them.
    – Mark Amery
    Commented Jan 24, 2016 at 15:08
  • Beyond that, I think the Economics or Politics Stack Exchanges are the only ones that this would potentially be on-topic on, although I'm not quite comfortable putting that into an answer because I'm not familiar with either site and don't know precisely what's allowed on each. If you had a specific, disprovable claim that you wanted fact-checked, and a notable source for it (such as GiveDirectly themselves or someone like GiveWell), then Skeptics Stack Exchange would be an appropriate place to ask, but the question as it stands is too broad for Skeptics.
    – Mark Amery
    Commented Jan 24, 2016 at 15:12
  • 1
    Outside of Stack Exchange, GiveDirectly are one of the charities recommended by or donated to by many members of the "Effective Altruist" movement (as you may already know - I'm not sure whether your awareness of and interest in GiveDirectly comes from interaction with EAs, or whether you're from a different background). Perhaps you could ask in their Facebook group or forum, although I'm not familiar with the norms of either.
    – Mark Amery
    Commented Jan 24, 2016 at 15:16
  • I'm not actually looking for evidence about whether or not the model works (though I do think that it probably does), but evidence that it would provide political benefits for a government to implement it. Was that slightly clearer, and if so how should I best reflect that in the question? Note, editing the question now for unrelated reasons.
    – michaeljt
    Commented Jan 24, 2016 at 15:17
  • Apologies, I skim-read and missed that you were interested in specifically political benefits. I think all my suggestions stand despite this, though.
    – Mark Amery
    Commented Jan 24, 2016 at 15:19
  • @MarkAmery Regarding the EAs, they might well be the people to help answering the question, but that is also somewhat tangent to the actual question (the immediate one here on Meta I mean) of what sort of site would be a good place to ask. I was thinking of something (perhaps wiki style) where people could add points of evidence, (e.g. a reference to some particular study of the Bolza) and discuss their relevance and applicability with others.
    – michaeljt
    Commented Jan 24, 2016 at 17:16
  • 1
    What do you mean by "answer the question below in a collaborative way"? Why couldn't you just ask the question "normally", on Politics? Commented Jan 25, 2016 at 15:16
  • @200_success My idea was that people would propose potential evidence which could then be discussed for applicability. I thought this did not quite fit into the Stack Exchange model. I didn't want to ask the question directly on Politics before getting a second opinion on whether it was suitable (and for that matter, part of the question - which you and Mark have answered - was which SE site would best fit). If no answers are forthcoming I will answer myself (or let Mark or you if you prefer), suggesting Politics and trying to narrow the scope of the question sufficiently.
    – michaeljt
    Commented Jan 25, 2016 at 21:10
  • @200_success By the way, why did you remove the block quotes? Did you not think it was useful to clearly distinguish the question being asked here from the question - potentially for Politics - under discussion?
    – michaeljt
    Commented Jan 25, 2016 at 21:12
  • 1
    Treating SE as a discussion forum sounds problematic. Just ask for answers, and people will indicate indicate helpfulness or disagreement through votes and comments. If you really need another opinion of the appropriateness of your question, ask on Politics Meta. Commented Jan 25, 2016 at 21:14
  • Oh, I see. You're quoting from your own hypothetical question that you want to post. Commented Jan 25, 2016 at 21:15
  • @200_success Re Politics Meta, thank you, I thought of that and you saved me asking here. Yes, that was roughly my thought - if no one can suggest somewhere where my question fits better, ask on SE and adjust the question to better fit SE.
    – michaeljt
    Commented Jan 26, 2016 at 8:08

1 Answer 1


Answering this myself based on Marc Avery and 200_success's comments. For want of answers with better suggestions, and after reading their guidelines, it seems that Politics would be a reasonable fit if I can live with more one-off and less discussion-like answers. It might be worth asking in Politics meta first about whether the question needs adjusting for appropriateness. Marc Avery noted that the Effective Altruist movement might be good people to look to for answers to the question.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .