This week, we discuss North Korean denuclearization; a scholarship program for military spouses; a wellness program that uses the Apple Watch to incentivize exercise; a recent national security conference; high-quality summer and after-school programs; and how libraries are supporting community health.
North Korea has demanded sanctions relief in recent months. But it has yet to relinquish a single nuclear weapon. In fact, North Korea appears to be nuclearizing, not denuclearizing, says RAND's Bruce Bennett. That's why now is not the time to reduce U.S. pressure on the Kim regime, he says. Instead, Washington should consider proposing a nuclear freeze on North Korean weapon production. This would be a key test of whether Kim Jong Un plans to fulfill his promise.
The demands of military life can mean that spouses of military personnel earn less money than spouses of civilians. They are also more likely to be unemployed or underemployed—even when they have more years of education or more work experience. The Department of Defense established a scholarship program to help address this issue. And according to a new RAND study, the program shows promise for improving employment and earnings among military spouses.
Many health insurers offer rewards to incentivize exercise. Discovery Insurance, a South African company, is using a unique approach. It gave customers the opportunity to receive an Apple Watch up front, with repayment for the device dependent on physical activity. RAND researchers compared this program with one of Discovery's traditional wellness incentives. They found that it was linked to higher levels of physical activity that persist over time.
Last month, RAND held the Roberta Wohlstetter Forum on National Security. The speakers, moderators, organizers, donor, and namesake were all women. This wasn't a secret, said RAND's Caroline Baxter. But she and the other organizers chose not to highlight that fact—because the event "wasn't a 'women's conference.'" The experts covered a wide range of topics, including disinformation and future battlefield warfare technologies.
High-quality summer and after-school programs can help keep kids safe, improve behavior, and even raise test scores. But access to such programs isn't equally distributed. America's highest-income families spend almost seven times more on child enrichment activities than low-income families. Public investment in programs for low-income youth could help close the gap, say RAND experts. But these programs aren't magic. The quality of the program and the child's attendance are crucial.
Libraries can provide much more than books and internet access. Libraries across the United States are evolving to play a bigger role in community health. Many offer nutrition programs, mental health support, and even free bike-shares. According to Carolyn Miller of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and RAND's Anita Chandra, these changes could help communities build a "Culture of Health."
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