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
The Springer series on demographic methods and population analysis 41
Cham, Springer (2017)


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.

Keywords: life cycle, mate matching, microsimulation
The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.