This week, we discuss declining dementia rates in the United States; Ukraine’s Crimea conundrum; protecting personal data in a post-Roe world; preparing for a “tsunami of deepfakes”; telehealth since the pandemic began; and why schools need more data to support migrant students.
The prevalence of dementia among Americans over age 65 declined from 12.2 percent in 2000 to 8.5 percent in 2016—nearly a one-third drop. That's according to a new RAND study.
This overall decline is good news for older people and their families, as well as the systems that support them. But disparities persist: The prevalence of dementia tends to be higher for racial- and ethnic-minority individuals, both among men and women.
Notably, our findings indicate that education is a contributing factor to the reduction in dementia. This suggests that closing the education gap across racial and ethnic groups may be a powerful tool to reduce health inequalities related to dementia.
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Ukraine's Crimea Conundrum
Recent battlefield gains, including the liberation of Kherson, may be building Ukraine's confidence about retaking Crimea from Russian control. But according to RAND experts, the decision to launch a full-scale assault on Crimea is a difficult one. Success could restore Ukraine's territorial integrity or provide leverage to pursue a Russian withdrawal. But there are also serious risks to consider, including increased nuclear threats from Moscow.
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We Aren't Ready for a 'Tsunami of Deepfakes'
RAND research has shown that people struggle to distinguish between deepfakes and authentic videos. (In a recent study, participants were wrong more than one-third of the time.) This could make deepfakes a potent tool for spreading disinformation. And while there are technologies that can help detect falsified videos, deepfakes are winning out. Scalable solutions may be needed to avoid potentially disastrous consequences.
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Data Privacy After Roe
With the repeal of Roe v. Wade and abortion banned in at least 13 U.S. states, there are concerns that personal data entered in period-tracking apps could be used as evidence against someone who terminates a pregnancy. According to RAND's Mary Lee, until new laws protecting users' private data are enacted, it's up to individuals to safeguard themselves. But that may only be possible if app developers prioritize user privacy.
A new RAND study finds that, since the beginning of the pandemic, Americans are more willing to use video telehealth. Some of the largest increases were among Black Americans and people with less education—two groups that were the least willing to use video telehealth before the pandemic. These findings could help ensure equitable access to care, particularly as telehealth becomes a more-permanent mode of health care delivery.
More than two million migrants crossed the southwest U.S. border in the last fiscal year. Among them were more than 150,000 unaccompanied children, plus more than half a million children and adults arriving as families. America's schools face many challenges in supporting migrant children. To start, districts don't know how many students to expect, making it nearly impossible to plan budgets and staffing. According to RAND experts, addressing this problem will require improved collaboration, data sharing, and transparency across federal agencies.
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