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Military Spouses, Exercise Incentives, Libraries: RAND Weekly Recap

November 30, 2018

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 Korean leader Kim Jong Un leads the testing of a newly developed tactical weapon in this undated photo released on November 16, 2018

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un leads the testing of a newly developed tactical weapon in this undated photo released on November 16, 2018

Photo by KCNA/Reuters

Why North Korea Sanctions Relief Isn't the Right Move Now

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.

A woman graduating

Photo by U.S. Department of Education/army.mil

Improving Work Prospects for Military Spouses

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.

Two people checking data on their smart watches while exercising outdoors

Photo by RoBeDeRo/Getty Images

A New Approach to Exercise Incentives

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.

L-R: Caroline Baxter, Cherie Emerson, Melissa Rowe, Elizabeth Bodine-Baron, Christine Wormuth, Kimberly Kagan, Cortney Weinbaum, Stacie Pettyjohn at the Roberta Wohlstetter Forum on National Security in Arlington, Virginia, October 24, 2018

Speakers from the Roberta Wohlstetter Forum on National Security in Arlington, Virginia, October 24, 2018

Photo by Grace Evans and Khorshied Samad/RAND Corporation

RAND Hosts National Security Forum—'Not a Women's Conference'

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.

Students in the Munroe Elementary School after-school garden club show off plants they are going to plant in the school's garden in Denver, Colorado, May 9, 2012

Students in the Munroe Elementary School after-school garden club show off plants for the school's garden in Denver, Colorado, May 9, 2012

Photo by Rick Wilking/Reuters

It's Worth Investing in Quality Out-of-School-Time Programs

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.

A woman choosing from a row of bicycles

Photo by PIKSEL/Getty Images

How Libraries Support Public Health

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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