Book Chapter

Simulating synthetic life courses of individuals and couples, and mate matching

Zinn, S.

In: Grow, A., van Bavel, J. (Eds.): Agent-based modelling in population studies: concepts, methods, and applications, 113-157 (2017)
The Springer series on demographic methods and population analysis 41
Cham: Springer.

ISBN 978-3-319-32281-0, eISBN 978-3-319-32283-4, DOI:10.1007/978-3-319-32283-4_5

Keywords: life cycle, mate matching, microsimulation


We present a novel microsimulation approach which is enriched by elements from agent-based modeling. Concretely, we have designed a simulation model and software which facilitate describing and simulating life courses of individuals and couples and conducting mate matching. To define individual and couple behavior we use a continuous-time multi-state model, that is, we use a continuous-time microsimulation model. For mate matching we apply agent-based modeling: first, to each individual who is seeking for a partner a random value is assigned that captures his or her aspiration level regarding the fit with a potential partner. Then, via an empirical likelihood equation we assess the probability that a given woman and a given man would mate. Thereafter, we simulate a decision making process whether two individuals form a couple applying individual aspiration levels and their mating probability. Our description puts into perspective the differences between microsimulation and agent-based modeling, their relative strength, and limitations. We use the ml-DEVS formalism to specify the novel simulation approach and the modeling and simulation framework JAMES II to implement it. Projecting a hypothesized population based on the population of the Netherlands serves to illustrate its potential.