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'Vaccine Nationalism,' a Pandemic Election, Women in the Workforce: RAND Weekly Recap

October 30, 2020

We discuss what might happen if there isn't global coordination when a COVID-19 vaccine is available; Americans' feelings about voting and election safety and integrity; why women are leaving the labor force in record numbers; measuring the safety of automated vehicles; the importance of teaching civic responsibility; and a better way to negotiate with North Korea.

Vials of COVID-19 vaccine, photo by MarsBars/Getty Images

Photo by MarsBars/Getty Images

'Vaccine Nationalism' Could Be Costly

What might happen if countries pursue their own perceived interests when a COVID-19 vaccine is available—rather than focusing on global coordination? Such “vaccine nationalism” could cost the world up to $1.2 trillion per year in GDP, according to a new RAND Europe study.

The analysis shows how countries would incur economic penalties—for the global population and for themselves—if they initially immunize only their own citizens. That's because as long as the virus is not under control in all regions, there will continue to be a global cost associated with COVID-19. “A globally coordinated multilateral effort to fight the pandemic is key,” says lead author Marco Hafner, “not only from a public health perspective but also an economic one.”

A man wearing a protective mask due to COVID-19 pandemic holds a sign outside Madison Square Garden, which is used as a polling station, on the first day of early voting in Manhattan, New York, October 24, 2020, photo by Jeenah Moon/Reuters

A man holds a sign outside a polling place at Madison Square Garden on the first day of early voting in New York, October 24, 2020

Photo by Jeenah Moon/Reuters

How Voters Feel About a Pandemic Election

In May and June, RAND conducted a survey to learn more about Americans' views on voting during a pandemic. In August, we followed up with these same Americans to find out whether their views had changed. Overall, there were small shifts, including a slight decline in voters' expectations about safety and a drop in the percentage of respondents who said that they expect their vote to be counted correctly. There were also modest shifts in whether and how people intended to vote. Importantly, the authors note that some voters' intentions may change right up to Election Day.

Illustration of a diverse group of women, photo by Ada Yokota/Getty Images

Image by Ada Yokota/Getty Images

Why Women Are Leaving the Labor Force in Record Numbers

Between August and September, 865,000 women left the U.S. labor force. Some reduction in workforce participation is expected during a recession, says RAND's Kathryn Edwards. But during the pandemic, the concern is that women aren't simply sitting out of a difficult job market. Rather, the need for caregiving amid school and day care closures may be pushing them out. Meanwhile, it remains to be seen whether public or corporate policies will change to help working women receive the support that they've long deserved but gone without, says Edwards.

Illustration of smart transportation, people and vehicles moving in city streets using sensors, photo by elenabsl/Adobe Stock

Image by elenabsl/Adobe Stock

When Will Automated Vehicles Be 'Safe Enough'?

Deciding when automated vehicles are safe enough to hit the road is not straightforward, especially because AV technology is constantly evolving. A new RAND report examines this challenge, assessing the measurements, processes, and thresholds used to determine AV safety. The authors conclude that there is no single best approach. Rather, different methods for understanding safety can complement one another. Whatever the path forward, consistent, coherent, and comprehensive messages about safety will be essential to nurturing public trust in AVs.

Jayson Chang teaches civics at Santa Teresa High School in San Jose, Calif., photo courtesy of Jayson Chang

Jayson Chang teaches civics at Santa Teresa High School in San Jose, California

Photo courtesy of Jayson Chang

The Importance of Teaching Civic Responsibility

Civics was once the cornerstone of an American education. Today, it's not even a graduation requirement in some schools. But a growing number of states and school districts are again recognizing a need to prepare students for the sometimes-messy realities of democracy. RAND researchers have been focusing on civics education, too. Their recent findings suggest that schools can do more to help students understand current events; learn how institutions (should) work; and guard against “Truth Decay,” the diminishing role of facts in American public life.

U.S. and North Korean diplomacy depicted by pencils and people running off cliffs to meet in the middle, photo by wildpixel/Getty Images

Image by wildpixel/Getty Images

Is There a Better Way to Negotiate with North Korea?

In a new report, RAND's Rafiq Dossani examines America's historical inability to engage North Korea in denuclearization negotiations—and charts an alternate path forward. First, he identifies three primary reasons for past U.S. failures: disagreements on the goals of negotiations, inadequate domestic and international support, and the failure to use trust-building mechanisms. Dossani then outlines a new approach, the portfolio method, that addresses these issues and aims to engage all parties more effectively.

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