RAND Gulf State Policy Institute Newsletter


Issue 8, May 2010

A periodic report on key public policy findings and activities of the RAND Gulf States Policy Institute

RAND in the Region

children playing hopscotch

Making Strategic Community Investments

The Community Foundation of Shreveport-Bossier, Louisiana, selected education, health, and poverty as funding priorities in 2009, but it needed guidelines for distributing limited resources. RAND researcher Rebecca Kilburn led a groundbreaking project to analyze available data more extensively and apply a RAND-developed framework for making investment decisions that incorporated the region's values and the best of traditional decisionmaking approaches. The framework focuses on the intersection of needs, assets, and best practices. Among RAND's findings are that assets such as health care providers, public schools, and the Barksdale Air Force Base can address the parishes' needs in the specific areas of infant health, child maltreatment, and educational attainment. The framework is applicable to other geographic regions in the area and around the nation as a whole.

Read moreResearch Brief
Read moreFull Document

Community-driven Research: Improving Healthcare in Post-Katrina New Orleans

While federal efforts have since improved aspects of primary care, research has documented high levels of unmet health needs in Katrina-affected communities. Research and policy efforts that address health care concerns among vulnerable populations in post-disaster settings present important opportunities for community-directed recovery. REACH NOLA (Rapid Evaluation and Action for Community Health in New Orleans, Louisiana) partnered with RAND Gulf States, New Orleans-area nongovernmental organizations, and academic institutions and, one year after Katrina, engaged communities in an assessment of health priorities. The goals were to inform the policy process and build capacity for recovery planning. Findings were shared at a public community conference in which participants provided feedback and developed recovery-relevant action steps. Three themes emerged from the assessments: health care access challenges; unmet needs of specific vulnerable populations; and opportunities, resources, and adaptations to improve community recovery.

Read moreFact Sheet

Lowering Insurance Costs, Improving Coverage

RAND economist Lloyd Dixon was invited by U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., to speak at an insurance roundtable at the Gulfport campus of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College on April 8. The goal of the roundtable was discussion about how to lower insurance costs and improve coverage for the Gulf Coast. Among other topics: possible federal insurance that covers wind and flood damage, not just one or the other, and thereby prevents the disputes and delays that have occurred since the 2005 storms. Wicker said, "There is no question that one of the most difficult obstacles in recovering from Hurricane Katrina—or preparing for the next storm—has been the cost and availability of insurance." Dixon has led studies of commercial wind insurance in the Gulf states and national flood insurance.

Read moreResearch Brief
Read moreFull Document

Update: Workforce Development

Workforce development continues to be the RAND Gulf States focus for 2010 and we continue to seek financial support for a regional workforce development initiative. One of RAND's collaborators, the South Alabama Workforce Development Commission (SAWDC), reports that colleges and vocational schools need accurate data to help them meet the needs of employers and workers. In March, we met with civic, nonprofit, and policy leaders in Mississippi and Alabama to further RAND's workforce initiative.

Recent RAND Research

man being arrested

What Cost-of-Crime Research Can Tell Us About Investing in Police

Existing high-quality research on the costs of crime and the effectiveness of police—often buried in journals targeted to academics rather than policymakers—demonstrates that public investment in police can generate substantial social returns.

Read moreFull Document
Read moreNews Release
Read morePublic Safety Research Area

a boy drinking a can of soda

Small Taxes on Soft Drinks Insufficient to Substantially Curb Soda Consumption Among Children

Small sales taxes on soft drinks in the range currently in force in some states are insufficient to reduce consumption of soda or curb obesity among children. Such small taxes may reduce consumption by children at greater risk for obesity, but reducing consumption for all children would require larger taxes.

Read moreAbstract
Read moreNews Release
Read moreHealth and Health Care Research Area

cover of MG255

Examining Gaps in Mathematics Achievement Among Racial-Ethnic Groups, 1972-1992

Examines trends in the mathematics scores of different racial-ethnic groups over time and analyzes how changes in family, school, and schooling measures help explain changes in the test score gaps. Although there were few positive changes between schools, the within-school experiences of black and Latino students changed for the better compared with white students when measured by student self-reported academic track placement.

Read moreFull Document


Visit us online at www.rand.org/gulf-states


Melissa Flournoy, Director

Sally Sleeper, Director of Programs

Pauline Zalkin, Director, Development & External Relations



We invite your suggestions for researchers, projects, centers, and funding or collaboration opportunities to highlight in future issues. Write to us at RGSPI_News@rand.org.

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