This essential dimensions of microsimulation as an instrument to analyze and forecast the individual impacts of alternative economic and social policy measures are surveyed in this study. The basic principles of microsimulation, which is a tool for practical policy advising as well as for research and teaching, are pointed out and the static and dynamic (cross-section and life-cycle) approaches are compared to one another. Present and past developments of microsimulation models and their areas of application are reviewed, focusing on the US, Europe and Australia. Based on general requirements and components of microsimulation models a microsimulation model's actual working mechanism are discussed by a concrete example: the concept and realization of MICSIM, a PC microsimulation model based on a relational database system, an offspring of the Sfb 3 Statitic Microsimulation Model. Common issues of microsimulation modeling are regarded: micro/macro link, behavioural response and the important question of evaluating microsimulation results. The concluding remarks accentuate the increasing use of microcomputers for microsimulation models also for teaching purposes
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