SMILE - A Spatial Microsimulation Model for Ireland

Document Information


  • Published: January 2009
  • Authors: Karyn Morrissey, Graham Clarke and Cathal O'Donoghue
  • Purpose: NATSEM 2009 Seminar series
  • Location: NATSEM, University of Canberra, Bruce ACT
  • Keywords: Ireland, Microsimulation, Morrissey, SMILE and spatial


Much modelling in the social sciences takes an aggregate or meso-level approach. However, many policy-level analyses call for individual or household level analysis at the small area or regional level. Spatial microsimulation is a means of synthetically creating large-scale micro-datasets at different geographical scales. The development and application of spatial microsimulation models offers considerable scope and potential to analysis the individual composition of an area so that specific policies may be directed to areas with the highest need for that policy. SMILE (Simulation Model of the Irish Local Economy) is a static spatial microsimulation model. Using a combinational optimisation technique, simulated annealing, to match a number of small area level and micro-level datasets, SMILE produces a micro-level synthetic dataset for the whole population of Ireland. The dataset created by SMILE contains a variety of demographic, socio-economic, labour force and income variables for both individuals and family units. Furthermore, unlike other microsimulation models SMILE also contains a detailed farm and health component. As such, SMILE has been used to examine a variety of policy applications, ranging from agricultural, environmental, recreation, poverty, health and socio-economic analysis, at both the small area level and micro-level in Ireland. The paper behind this seminar provides an overview of the SMILE model and introduces a number of applications which SMILE has been used to examine. It also provides future model development and applications. Karyn Morrissey has a BA in Economics and Sociology & Politics (National University Ireland, Galway, 2003) and an MA Economics: Policy and Planning Analysis (NUI, Galway, 2005). She completed her PhD under the Walsh Fellowship Programme at the University of Leeds and the Rural Economic Research Centre, Teagasc, Ireland in 2008. Her research looks at the provision of rural health services in Ireland.


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