Refugees, Women's Health Research, Supporting Incarcerated Parents: RAND Weekly Recap

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February 18, 2022

This week, we discuss how a Russian invasion of Ukraine could lead to a massive refugee crisis; the benefits of investing in women’s health research; how to end all U.S. roadway deaths; pandemic-related staffing challenges in America’s schools; programs available to support incarcerated parents and their children; and the strengths and weaknesses of China's defense industrial base.

Distribution of humanitarian aid from the International Committee of the Red Cross in Donetsk, Ukraine, March 17, 2021, photo by Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters

Photo by Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters

A Russian Invasion Could Spark a Massive Refugee Crisis

The United States and its allies continue to pursue diplomatic solutions to end the Russia-Ukraine crisis. But many fear that Moscow might invade Ukraine any day now.

A massive refugee or migration crisis could be one fallout of such an invasion, according to RAND's Shelly Culbertson and Charles Ries. This would have significant humanitarian, political, and economic implications for Ukrainian refugees and the European nations they flee to.

Recent RAND research has shown that there are ways to mitigate the negative effects of large-scale migration—for example, by allowing refugees to work. But avoiding a refugee crisis altogether is the ideal solution, especially because the vast majority of refugees never return home.

“A risk of millions of displaced people inside Europe, the likes of which has not been seen since World War II, could present yet one more reason to make sure that a Russian invasion of Ukraine does not happen,” say Culbertson and Ries.

A doctor in a lab coat and wearing a stethoscope holds a pictograph of a woman in her hands, photo by Drouk/Getty Images

Photo by Drouk/Getty Images

Why It's Time to Invest More in Women's Health Research

The study of women's health issues has long been underfunded. Not only does this overlook more than half the population, says RAND's Chloe Bird, it also leaves a tremendous amount of money on the table. Bird contributed to a RAND study that shows how increased investments in women's health research could add billions to the U.S. economy. This is “among the biggest opportunities in health care in generations,” she says.

Aerial view of a highway junction at night, photo by DKart/Getty Images

Photo by DKart/Getty Images

Can the U.S. End Roadway Deaths?

Data suggests that pedestrian fatalities in the United States spiked in 2020—even though people drove much less. Before COVID-19 hit, RAND researchers developed a plan for how to eliminate all deaths that occur on America's roads. Their findings show that it's possible to do so by 2050. The ideas in the plan are “ambitious, but not eye-rollingly so,” said RAND's Liisa Ecola, who led the effort. “They're not really outside of the box. These are actions we could be taking now.”

A parent of two students works as a substitute teacher at the Austin Jewish Academy as the spread of the Omicron variant leads to teacher shortages in Austin, Texas, January 20, 2022, photo by Callaghan O'Hare/Reuters

A parent fills in as a substitute teacher as the spread of the Omicron variant leads to teacher shortages in Austin, Texas, January 20, 2022

Photo by Callaghan O'Hare/Reuters

Staffing Challenges in the Pandemic's Third School Year

What types of staffing shortages are America's schools facing this year? According to new RAND survey results, as of fall 2021, shortages were most acute for substitutes, bus drivers, special education teachers, and paraprofessionals. Even though turnover among superintendents was normal, half of those we surveyed said that they would either leave in the next few years or were unsure how long they would stay.

A woman says goodbye to her partner as she holds their 5-year-old daughter at San Quentin state prison in San Quentin, California, June 8, 2012, photo by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

A woman says goodbye to her partner as she holds their 5-year-old daughter at San Quentin state prison, June 8, 2012

Photo by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

Parenting from Prison: What Supports Are Available?

Approximately 2.7 million children in the United States have at least one parent in prison—a challenge that disproportionately affects Black and Latinx families. Many prisons offer programs to help these families, but little is known about their implementation or effectiveness. A new RAND study aims to understand how facilities can best support, and improve outcomes for, parents and children affected by incarceration.

W01DN9 Chinese technicians monitor the precision, robotic welding of aviation and industrial materials at the Atlantic Welding Industry Park in Zigong, Sichuan Province, China, on November 20, 2017, photo by UPI/Alamy Stock Photo

Technicians monitor robotic welding equipment at a facility in Zigong, Sichuan Province, China, November 20, 2017

Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI/Alamy Stock Photo

Analyzing China's Defense Industrial Base

RAND researchers developed a new method for assessing a country's defense industrial base, or DIB. They first applied this framework to China's DIB, identifying key strengths and weaknesses. Among other findings, they concluded that China is indeed a global science and technology power. But Beijing still relies on foreign supports in many areas, such as material imports and education, which creates vulnerabilities.

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