When demography met social simulation: A tale of two modelling approaches

Silverman, E. , Bijak, J., Hilton, J., Cao, V. D. and Noble, J. (2013) When demography met social simulation: A tale of two modelling approaches. Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, 16(4), (doi: 10.18564/jasss.2327)

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In this paper we present an agent-based model of a human population, designed to illustrate the potential synergies between demography and agent-based social simulation. In the modelling process, we take advantage of the perspectives of both disciplines: demography being more focused on matching statistical models to empirical data, and social simulation on explanations of social mechanisms underlying the observed phenomena. This work is based on earlier attempts to introduce agent-based modelling to demography, but extends them into a multi-level and multi-state framework. We illustrate our approach with a proof-of-concept model of partnership formation and changing health status over the life course. In addition to the agent-based component, the model includes empirical elements based on demographic data for the United Kingdom. As such, the model allows analysis of the demographic dynamics at a variety of levels, from the individual, through the household, to the whole population. We bolster this analysis further by using statistical emulation techniques, which allow for in-depth investigation of the interaction of model parameters and of the resulting output uncertainty. We argue that the approach—although not fully predictive per se—has four important advantages. First, the model is capable of studying the linked lives of simulated individuals in a variety of scenarios. Second, the simulations can be readily embedded in the relevant social or physical spaces. Third, the approach allows for overcoming some data-related limitations, augmenting the available statistical information with assumptions on behavioural rules. Fourth, statistical emulators enable exploration of the parameter space of the underlying agent-based models.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Silverman, Dr Eric
Authors: Silverman, E., Bijak, J., Hilton, J., Cao, V. D., and Noble, J.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > MRC/CSO SPHSU
Journal Name:Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation
Publisher:SimSoc Consortium
ISSN (Online):1460-7425

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