Geography matters: Simulating the local impacts of national social policies

Dimitris Ballas, David Rossiter, Bethan Thomas, Graham Clarke and Danny Dorling

A demonstration of a simple simulation model to estimate the spatial impacts of social policies.

Microsimulation is widely used to analyse redistributive policies and budget changes but few models have simulated the geographical impacts of policies.

Building on past work on microsimulation, Geography matters presents a new spatial simulation methodology. The study:

  • identifies the main reasons for the paucity of geographical microsimulation work;
  • discusses the conceptual and practical issues;
  • explains the differences between static and dynamic microsimulation;
  • reviews the literature on geographical microsimulation and gives a succinct overview of other methods that have been used for the geographical analysis of survey data, as well as other data.

Keeping mathematical and statistical jargon to a minimum, the authors then illustrate how to build a geographical microsimulation model. The simple technique can be used by any social scientist with a basic understanding of quantitative research methods. In addition, they propose a new technique for simulating the fortunes of household spaces rather than households.

The work presented here aims to promote more convergence of the methods used by economists, geographers and other social scientists working in this field. As well as being of interest to researchers concerned with the geographical implications of social policies, it makes a useful introduction for undergraduate and postgraduate students to simulation methods in the social sciences.