In a nutshell: There are many options for making progress on policy: you can research which policy proposals make the most sense for the long-term future, advocate for specific proposals, or do implementation. We expect that many policy careers focused on longtermism could be as impactful as our highest-priority career paths, but we haven’t learned enough about them to be confident about which are the most promising options or the best routes to entry. We do think that work on policy directly related to our current list of the most pressing problems will have a particularly high impact.

Sometimes recommended — under-researched

This career is potentially high-impact, but we haven't yet researched it enough to recommend it confidently.

Review status

Based on a shallow investigation 

Why might longtermist-oriented policy careers be high impact?

There is likely a lot of policy work with the potential to positively affect the long-term future, and not all of it will fit into our longtermist priority paths of AI policy or biorisk policy. (We’ve written a separate article about policy work related to these particularly pressing problems.)

Outside of these areas, we aren’t sure what might be best to aim for in policy. But working in an area that is plausibly important for safeguarding the long-term future seems like a promising way to build knowledge and career capital, so that you can judge later what policy interventions might be most promising for you to pursue.

Possible areas include:

  • Finding ways to safeguard political systems against authoritarian backsliding, for instance by improving the security of voting processes.
  • Promoting international cooperation and peace, which also makes civilisation more robust.
  • Working on policies to reduce extreme risks from climate change.
  • Other ‘broad interventions’ for making governments generally better at navigating global challenges, such as promoting voting reform.
  • Interventions to give the interests of future generations greater representation in governments — such as requiring ‘posterity impact statements’ for relevant legislation, or creating specialised legislative committees whose purpose is to consider the effect of policies on future generations’ interests. Read more about longtermist institutional reform.

See our problem profiles page for more pressing issues, some of which you might be able to help address through a policy-oriented career.

The spectrum of options for making progress on policy ranges from research to work out which proposals make sense, to advocacy for specific proposals, to implementation. (See our writeup on government and policy careers for more on this topic.)

Example of someone pursuing this path

Want one-on-one advice on pursuing this path?

If you think this path might be a great option for you, but you need help deciding or thinking about what to do next, our team might be able to help.

We can help you compare options, make connections, and possibly even help you find jobs or funding opportunities.

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Read next: Learn about other high-impact careers

Want to consider more paths? See our list of the highest-impact career paths according to our research.

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