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Suggested Citation:"Introduction." 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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INTRODUCTION 1 Introduction Constance F.Citro The papers in this volume, prepared by members, staff, and consultants of the Panel to Evaluate Microsimulation Models for Social Welfare Programs, provide technical background on topics related to microsimulation modeling. The panel drew heavily on these papers in forming the recommendations that are presented in Volume I, Part II, of this report. However, the views expressed in the papers are the authors' and should not be attributed to the panel. The papers relate to all of the elements that are part of using microsimulation models for policy analysis purposes: that is, to estimating the budgetary and population effects of alternative programs and policies. As approached through microsimulation techniques, this task entails simulating the effects of program changes at the level of the individual decision units involved—such as families for changes to income support programs or doctors and hospitals for changes to health care cost reimbursement programs. The elements that contribute to microsimulation modeling of policy alternatives include the input databases, the design of the models themselves, the models' computing environments, methods for evaluating the models' outputs, and the models' documentation. This introduction provides an overview of the volume and brief descriptions and references for the major microsimulation models that are referred to by the authors. Chapter 4 and the Appendix to Part II in Volume I present a more detailed explanation of the microsimulation modeling approach.

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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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