Big Ideas for Social and Economic Well-Being

Social and Economic Well-Being is committed to building safe, healthy and thriving communities throughout the world. Researchers in different disciplines collaborate to develop innovative solutions for such wide-ranging topics as income inequality, the needs of aging populations, quality of life for children and families, substance use, mental health promotion, climate and energy policy, effective policing and criminal justice reform, and the societal impacts of new technologies.

Read more below about the big ideas we are most interested in, and the types of questions we seek to solve.

For more information or to connect with RAND Social and Economic Well-Being, contact us.

The Tomorrow Demands Today campaign supports the research of RAND Social and Economic Well-Being in these and other topic areas.

Balancing Equity and Innovation in Communities of the Future

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Communities across the world are grappling with issues of how to address the needs of diverse populations, balancing issues of equity, safety, and quality of life with the potential for growth and innovation. By combining expertise in population dynamics, science and technology, public safety, health, law, economics, and community design principles, RAND can find solutions.

In this area, we are interested in several questions, including but not limited to:

How should we design communities?

What is the role of "smart" design, how is infrastructure designed and maintained, and what are the implications for rural and urban settings?

How is technology changing our lives and what can we do to have the best outcomes? How do we consider issues concerning economic growth and the need to provide fair and just access to opportunity? How can technology be used for positive economic and social outcomes?

How do we afford and promote a good quality of life?

How do we address issues of income inequality and inequity? How can we solve the persistent and chronic issue of homelessness? How do we produce and maintain health across the lifespan, and how can communities support that health production?

How do we maintain security as communities evolve and grow? What are the public safety issues and how should we address them while maintaining fairness? For what kinds of disasters (e.g., pandemics, wildfires) should we prepare and how?

How is climate change affecting us and what we can do about it?

How does growth and innovation factor in issues such as climate equity and resilience? What is the role of the private sector in this discussion?

Fostering Resilient and Connected Populations

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Now more than ever, we see the devastating toll of stress, family and community strain, economic disparity, and social isolation. RAND can shed light on how to harness the science of health and well-being combined with the new roles of technology and the changing role of civil society and translate those insights into effective policy.

In this area, we are interested in several questions, including but not limited to:

Why are some people dying earlier or living with more disease?

Why is life expectancy in the United States declining or not improving as rapidly for some? How do we help families dealing with the burden of chronic disease including substance use and mental health issues? Can new scientific advancement and technology be used to support longer life, such as the use of precision health, and if so, what are the equity considerations?

Why are some populations sad and isolated?

What does it mean to address emotional well-being across the lifespan? How can we address issues of despair and social isolation? How can our workplaces and other institutions address this problem?

Is hate on the rise, and if so why?

How can we address this discord? What does it mean for civil discourse and civic engagement? Can we promote kindness? What does this mean for social and political processes?

Managing Population Changes

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The refugee crisis, the current and future projections around climate migration, and the changing demographic landscape in the United States and globally sets forth new questions about our strategies and policies for aging, integration of new populations, and the readiness of our communities economically and socially to diversify. RAND’s skills in demography, sociology, political science, climate science, among other fields positions us to more actively address this global challenge.

In this area, we are interested in several questions, including but not limited to:

How do we handle the opportunities and challenges that come with aging and increasing longevity?

As demographic shifts and health advancements take hold in the United States and globally, how do we create supportive communities for aging in place and longer life? How do we support better care during later life?

How is immigration changing, and what does that mean for social and economic impacts?

What are the impacts of migration from economic shifts, climate change, the growth in refugees among other topics? What are the solutions to facilitate healthy integration?

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