Microsimulation models are computer models that operate at the level of the individual behavioural entity, such as a person, family, or firm. Such models simulate large representative populations of these low-level entities in order to draw conclusions that apply to higher levels of aggregation such as an entire country. This type of model is distinct from aggregate models whose explanatory variables already represent collective properties. An example of such an aggregate explanatory variable might be the national unemployment rate. Certain types of modeling problems are best dealt with using microsimulation whereas for others an aggregate approach is more appropriate.
Statistics Canada has developed a number of microsimulation models as well as general purpose tools that assist in their construction. Some of these models and tools can be downloaded from the pages linked below. A variety of analyses, some originating from inside Statistics Canada and some from outside, have been performed using these models.
For more information about microsimulation activities at Statistics Canada, click one or more of the links below.
SPSD/M is a detailed cross-sectional microsimulation model of individuals and families. It is based on a non-confidential annual database constructed using a variety of survey and administrative data sources. It is used for policy development and analysis of Federal and Provincial tax and transfer programs, as well as for analyzing issues related to income distribution.
LifePaths is a dynamic longitudinal microsimulation model of individuals and families. Using behavioural equations based on historical data, it creates statistically representative samples consisting of complete lifetimes of individuals. It is used for analyzing and developing government policies having an essentially longitudinal component, in particular those whose nature requires evaluation at the individual or family level. It can also be used to analyze a variety of societal issues of a longitudinal nature such as intergenerational equity or time allocation over entire lifetimes.
The LifePaths project is now discontinued and is no longer supported. Statistics Canada is in the process of developing new dynamic socio-economic microsimulation tools. More information on these developments can be obtained by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Demosim is a microsimulation model designed for population projections, starting with the Canadian census microdata file (20% sample) as the base population. It generates, at the metropolitan area level, projections of the future ethnocultural composition of the population according to different scenarios of population growth.
This overview outlines the health-related simulation models either in place or in development from the Health Analysis Division of Statistics Canada.
Modgen is a general purpose tool created at Statistics Canada to facilitate the construction and use of longitudinal microsimulation models. The structure, equations, documentation, and result tabulations of a model are supplied to Modgen using a high level language. Modgen in turn constructs a fully functional computer program with a user interface that implements the specified model. BioBrowser, a companion application to Modgen, allows the visual exploration of the longitudinal histories of the low-level simulated entities generated by Modgen models.