The Racial Wealth Gap, the Effects of Long COVID, Teacher Diversity: RAND Weekly Recap


RAND Weekly Recap

December 9, 2022

This week, we discuss the racial wealth gap and potential solutions to address it; China’s global basing ambitions; why long COVID could lead to a “mass disability event”; a decline in opioid disorder treatment early in the pandemic; what prevents people of color from becoming and staying teachers; and three keys to rebuilding Ukraine after the war.

A man's profile in front of an abstract image of branches and hundred dollar bills, illustration by Kekeli Sumah/RAND Corporation, from Andre Hunter/Unsplash and Pete Soriano/RAND Corporation, from Atlas Illustrations/Adobe Stock and dar/Adobe Stock

Illustration by Kekeli Sumah/RAND. Images by Andre Hunter/Unsplash, Atlas Illustrations and dar/Adobe Stock, and Pete Soriano/RAND

Understanding the Racial Wealth Gap

Compared with Black Americans, white Americans make 73 percent more in annual income, are about two times more likely to own their home, hold 10 times more wealth, and are 28 times more likely to become millionaires.

In a new series of discussion papers, RAND researchers examine these stark inequities, presenting a model for wealth accumulation, assessing challenges facing the Black middle class, and considering policy options to help close the racial wealth gap.

The authors conclude that a “historic intervention” in the form of targeted wealth-allocation policies—also known as reparations—could address the problem. But truly eliminating the racial wealth gap would only be possible through broader policies that reduce overall wealth inequality in America.

The foundation stone laying ceremony of the support base of China's PLA in Djibouti, August 1, 2017, photo by Xinhua/Alamy

Officials lay the foundation stone during a ceremony to for China's People's Liberation Army support base in Djibouti, August 1, 2017

Photo by Xinhua/Alamy

China's Global Basing Ambitions

Determined to become a leading global military power, China seeks to establish a network of overseas military bases. And according to a new RAND report, the growth of China's military presence overseas is a matter of when, not if. The authors identify where China is most likely to pursue bases—Pakistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, and Myanmar top the list—and how the United States might respond.

Packages of Suboxone photographed in a pharmacy in Remington, Virginia, February 26, 2019, photo by Kris Tripplaar/Reuters

Packages of Suboxone photographed in a pharmacy in Remington, Virginia, February 26, 2019.

Photo by Kris Tripplaar/Reuters

Opioid Disorder Treatment in the Early Pandemic

Buprenorphine is a drug used to treat opioid use disorder. According to a new RAND study, the number of active prescriptions for buprenorphine remained constant during the first year of the pandemic. However, the number of new prescriptions was 17 percent lower than expected. Health care delivery disruptions related to COVID-19 may have contributed to such a steep drop in new patients starting the treatment.

Kathy Spencer sorts the dozens of pills she must take since contracting COVID-19 in November 2020, in Kensington, Connecticut, January 11, 2022, photo by Mark Mirko/TNS/ABACA via Reuters Connect

Kathy Spencer sorts the dozens of pills she must take since contracting COVID-19 in November 2020, Kensington, Connecticut, January 11, 2022

Photo by Mark Mirko/TNS/ABACA via Reuters

Long COVID Is a Mass Disability

An estimated 25 percent of COVID-19 patients will experience symptoms lasting months, causing many to lose earnings and jobs, or end up out of the labor force entirely. This is especially true for the millions of American workers without paid sick days or short-term disability insurance. According to RAND economist Kathryn Edwards, the U.S. economy may be approaching a “mass disability event” that it isn't well prepared to handle.

Black woman teacher in a classroom, photo by NappyStock/Pexels

Photo by NappyStock/Pexels

Recruiting and Retaining Teachers of Color

Evidence shows that all students, especially Black and Latino students, benefit from having teachers who are people of color. Yet, America's teaching workforce is far less racially diverse than its student body. What could help get more teachers of color into the classroom—and ensure they stay in the education workforce? A recent RAND study reveals two keys: reducing the costs of becoming and being a teacher, and creating inclusive, collegial school environments.

Railway workers repair the tracks damaged by Russian shelling in the northern direction, Kharkiv Region, northeastern Ukraine, November 25, 2022, photo by Vyacheslav Madiyevskyy/Ukrinform/ via Reuters

Railway workers repair tracks damaged by Russian shelling, Kharkiv Region, Ukraine, November 25, 2022

Photo by Vyacheslav Madiyevskyy/Ukrinform/Abaca Press via Reuters

The Politics of Ukrainian Reconstruction

When the fighting in Ukraine subsides, the country may undergo reconstruction on the scale of the post–World War II Marshall Plan. RAND experts recently broke down key considerations for a successful rebuilding effort, including prioritizing projects, funding sources, and the need for reforms related to government spending in Ukraine. Preparing for post-war construction now is another way the West can show its support for the Ukrainian people, they say.

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