Supporting Asian Americans, U.S. Gun Policy, Climate Migrants: RAND Weekly Recap

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March 26, 2021

We discuss why Asian Americans need unconditional support; research to help inform the gun policy debate; the education “arms race”; supporting climate migrants’ mental health; use of cancer screenings during the pandemic; and addressing the unemployment system’s failings.

Men hold flowers during a vigil at a makeshift memorial outside the Gold Spa following the deadly shootings in Atlanta, Georgia, March 21, 2021, photo by Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

Photo by Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

Asian Americans Need Unconditional Support

Last week, eight people were killed in a series of shootings in the Atlanta area. Six of the victims were Asian American women.

These attacks did not come out of nowhere. Violence and harassment directed at Asian Americans have risen sharply in the last year, and anti–Asian American racism is deeply rooted in U.S. history. What can be done to help?

RAND researchers Douglas Yeung, Peter Nguyen, and Regina Shih explain that support for the Asian American community is too often tied to serving some other purpose. What's needed now are actions that will specifically benefit Asian Americans.

“Truly meaningful support would affirm our inherent value and humanity, freeing us from playing a part in someone else's movie. If Asian Americans are to be truly seen as a diverse community rather than a monolith…support for our lives and livelihoods must be unconditional.”

RAND Gun Policy in America logo

RAND's Gun Policy in America initiative is one of the largest studies ever conducted on the effectiveness of different gun policies

Image by Chara Williams/RAND Corporation

Informing the Gun Policy Debate

Just days after the deadly events in Atlanta, 10 people were shot and killed at a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado. In the wake of back-to-back tragedies, the national debate about gun policy has again intensified, and President Biden has called for stricter gun laws. An ongoing RAND research initiative examines what scientific evidence tell us about the effects of firearm laws. The goal is to improve public discussions and establish a shared set of facts that will support the development of fair and effective gun policies.

Graduates of The City College of New York stand at their commencement ceremony in Manhattan on May 31, 2019, photo by Gabriela Bhaskar/Reuters

Graduates of the City College of New York at their commencement ceremony, May 31, 2019

Photo by Gabriela Bhaskar/Reuters

'Getting Ahead' Through Education: What's Standing in the Way

For the majority of Americans, a high school diploma no longer provides a viable pathway to the middle class. But even as education levels have been rising for the past 50 years, public support for higher education is declining, college costs continue to increase, and low college completion rates threaten young adults' ability to obtain a two- or four-year degree. In a new paper, RAND experts describe how educational attainment has become “an arms race” for those seeking upward mobility.

After losing their home to wildfires, Nick Schumacher and his dog Charlie prepare to move into a FEMA trailer in Mill City, Oregon, January 29, 2021, photo by Abigail Dollins/Statesman Journal via Reuters

After losing their home in a wildfire, Nick Schumacher and his dog Charlie prepare to move into a FEMA trailer in Mill City, Oregon, January 29, 2021

Photo by Abigail Dollins/Statesman Journal via Reuters

A Mental Health Crisis Looms for Americans Uprooted by Climate Change

Floods, wildfires, hurricanes, winter storms, and rising tides are leading to more migrations. Displaced families have to find new homes and new jobs. But they may also experience substantial trauma that negatively affects their mental health. That's according to RAND's Aaron Clark-Ginsberg, Saskia Vos of the University of Miami, and Seth Schwartz of the University of Texas at Austin. It's important for policymakers to consider these mental health needs when devising climate change–related policies.

Radiology tech preparing a patient for a mammogram, photo by AleksandarNakic/Getty Images

Photo by AleksandarNakic/Getty Images

Use of Cancer Screenings Rebounded Quickly After the Pandemic Hit

During the first two months of the pandemic, routine screenings for breast cancer and colon cancer dropped dramatically—by 96 percent and 95 percent, respectively. But by July 2020, use of these procedures returned to near-normal levels. That's according to a new RAND study. These are the first findings to show that, despite real fears about COVID-19 causing a decline in cancer screenings, health providers quickly figured out how to deliver these important services.

People line up outside the Kentucky Career Center before opening to find assistance with their unemployment claims in Frankfort, Kentucky, June 18, 2020, photo by Bryan Woolston/Reuters

People waiting outside the Kentucky Career Center for assistance with their unemployment claims, Frankfort, Kentucky, June 18, 2020

Photo by Bryan Woolston/Reuters

Options to Address the Unemployment System's Failings

New data released yesterday show jobless claims falling to their lowest level since COVID-19 hit. Despite this hopeful news, the last 12 months have highlighted cracks in America's state-based unemployment system. And according to RAND's Kathryn Edwards, states could take away the wrong lesson from the pandemic: Why spend money to maintain robust unemployment benefits if Congress will step in when the economy goes south? Going forward, Edwards says there are two options. Congress can either fix state programs, or replace them with a federal one.

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