This week, we discuss new data on where and how Americans get their news; whether Iran's domestic turmoil will affect its foreign policy; how federal disability payments extend to the whole family; countering Russia in the “gray zone”; one promising approach to improving maternal and child health in poor countries; and how Louisiana is reforming its education system.
One-third of Americans rely on news platforms that they acknowledge are less reliable—mainly social media and peers. That's just one finding in the latest report from RAND's research initiative on how to counter Truth Decay, the diminishing role of facts and analysis in American public life.
The authors analyzed data from a nationally representative survey to answer key questions about where people get their news, how reliable they think it is, and how demographics and political affiliation are linked to their behaviors.
Following mass protests by Iranians and a violent government response, officials in Tehran are more divided on domestic matters than they have been in months. But this internal discord is unlikely to change Iran's foreign policy, says RAND's Ariane Tabatabai. For now, it doesn't seem like Tehran will return to the negotiating table—even if Washington continues to dial up pressure. Instead, the regime may choose a far more troubling path: greater hostility.
When a parent receives federal disability payments, the likelihood that their adult children are paid for informal caregiving more than doubles. That's according to a new RAND study. In turn, disability payments allow caregivers to reduce the amount they work and reallocate time to care for their loved ones. This is new evidence of how disability benefits extend beyond the beneficiary and to the entire family.
RAND experts recently led a series of wargames to learn more about Russian aggression that takes place below the threshold of armed conflict—in the “gray zone” between peace and war. In a new report, the researchers outline key takeaways from these games. Notably, the West seems to be winning the gray zone battle with Moscow, but it does not recognize this. Also, civil organizations, rather than militaries, might be in the best position to counter Russia's gray zone tactics.
In 2018, 2.5 million children around the world died in their first month of life. A new RAND study examines one potential way to reduce this number: invest more in formal health care services during pregnancy and childbirth. The study offered a $14 payment—conditioned on using health services—to Nigerian households with an expecting mother. This led to significant reductions in child mortality. If this payment was offered across Nigeria, it would result in an estimated 85,000 fewer stillbirths per year. This would reduce global stillbirths by three percent.
Louisiana's education system faces serious challenges. The state is one of the poorest in the country, and Hurricane Katrina has had lasting, devastating effects. But Louisiana has recently adopted innovative strategies to improve student outcomes. RAND research shows that real progress has been made—in fact, other states could learn from Louisiana's efforts. But obstacles remain. As the state's superintendent of education says in a new RAND video, “You're not going to right the wrongs of history overnight. It's going to take time.”
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