This week, we discuss President Trump's second State of the Union address; the public-health impacts of reformulating OxyContin; what might happen at the next Trump-Kim summit; improving road safety for autonomous vehicles; filling STEM jobs in Appalachia; and work-life balance in Europe.
State of the Union: Insights from RAND
President Trump's second State of the Union address focused largely on border security. But the speech touched on several other policy challenges, including the U.S. presence in Afghanistan and Iraq, criminal justice reform, and infrastructure. To help shed light on some of these issues, we've rounded up insights from RAND's objective and nonpartisan research, analysis, and expertise.
To discourage drug abuse, the pain medicine OxyContin was reformulated in 2010, making it difficult to crush or dissolve. Unfortunately, this led to a large rise in hepatitis C infections as drug abusers switched from OxyContin to injectable heroin. That's according to a new RAND study. The findings show how efforts to address the opioid crisis can have unintended consequences.
It's hard to predict the outcome of the second U.S.–North Korea summit later this month, says RAND's Bruce Bennett. Ideally, President Trump would insist that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un begin to denuclearize. If Kim agreed, the next step would be for him to freeze weapon production in exchange for U.S. concessions, then surrender some weapons for disassembly. But if Kim keeps stalling, then serious tensions could follow, says Bennett.
No matter how much developers test autonomous vehicles, there will always be unforeseen circumstances on the road. Modifying roadways to be more forgiving could help, says RAND's Laura Fraade-Blanar. Enhanced lane divisions, roundabouts, and lowering speed limits are all ways to accommodate human error. That's true whether the human is a driver behind a steering wheel or an AV developer behind a computer.
The tristate region of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia needs more workers with STEM skills to fill jobs in the energy sector. But a new RAND report finds a disconnect between the skills employers want and what degree programs are emphasizing. There are steps both educators and employers can take to help fill these positions. A closer partnership between the two stakeholders is key.
RAND's Barbara Janta and colleagues recently analyzed survey data about quality of life in Europe. They found big differences across the continent in how employees describe their work-life balance. It's important for employers to be aware of this issue, says Janta. Harmony between work and home may help improve the well-being of children and adults. It could even promote a more prosperous society.
Listen to the Recap
Get Weekly Updates from RAND
If you enjoyed this weekly recap, consider subscribing to Policy Currents, our newsletter and podcast.