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Suggested Citation:"Suggestions." National Research Council. 1991. Improving Information for Social Policy Decisions -- The Uses of Microsimulation Modeling: Volume II, Technical Papers. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1853.
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Page 343

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DOCUMENTATION FOR MICROSIMULATION MODELS: A REVIEW OF TRIM2, MATH, AND HITSM 343 flowchart of processing) and sections on inputs, outputs, printouts (including error messages), examples, constraints, detailed method, and common blocks. The text has a number of examples and sample inputs and printouts as well as many flowcharts. Each section has a table of contents (with page numbers) and a list of tables and figures. However, despite these features, the User's Guide has a number of deficiencies. First, the document that the panel reviewed has virtually no preliminary material—no title page, warranty, preface, introduction, or author or contact information. There is a table of contents with page numbers; however, the pagination of the document seems to use some type of code—a combination of capital Roman numerals, capital letters, lowercase Roman numerals, Arabic numbers, and punctuation—with no explanation. The first page of text is V.A.-1. Later in the document, the only text encountered on page VI.A.-1 says that “pages VI.A.-1 through VI.A.-47 have been removed.” The next page is VI.A.-48. It is also necessary to decipher the archiving/updating system of the document. Most pages are identified by a release number and a date. Approximately two-thirds of the document is identified as Release 89.1 (dated 06/01/89). Presumably, releases occur sporadically. The 83.2 release is dated 7/1/83, whereas 80.1 is dated 9/1/80. In short, presumably if one is on the “inside” team of programmers, this document can serve as a reference document. For others it has no instructional or reference value. Thus, it seems to have extremely limited value to anyone (other than the original model developers) attempting to use the model. The MATH Codebook document provides the precise specifications for all of the variables used in or created by the MATH model. The preface to the document indicates that the particular version reviewed by the panel is an abbreviated version of another document entitled the MATH Codebook. Except for 4 pages of general notes, the document consists of an automated codebook. It is very similar to the TRIM2 Codebook document, as would be expected, although the MATH Codebook seems to have more information about each variable (such as survey, source, and universe) and to be more readable. The increased readability likely stems from the columnar format. Suggestions As with the TRIM2 documentation, the MATH documentation could benefit from critical copy and content editing. The editing should take into account the fact that the documents need to be useful to readers who are not thoroughly familiar with the MATH model. Also, the production of the documentation could use more quality control. The MATH Technical Description would benefit from expanding its introduction (perhaps in the form of an additional chapter) to provide instruction

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Improving Information for Social Policy Decisions -- The Uses of Microsimulation Modeling: Volume II, Technical Papers Get This Book
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This volume, second in the series, provides essential background material for policy analysts, researchers, statisticians, and others interested in the application of microsimulation techniques to develop estimates of the costs and population impacts of proposed changes in government policies ranging from welfare to retirement income to health care to taxes.

The material spans data inputs to models, design and computer implementation of models, validation of model outputs, and model documentation.

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