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Microsimulation modelling in this course relates to the simulation of the Australian tax and benefit system on actual persons and households using survey data. The simulations are used for the purpose of understanding existing current and alternative policies in Australia.

Microsimulation modelling is used heavily by researchers and policy analysts in Government but increasingly in academia and the private sector. Microsimulation modelling offers the researcher the capability to understand complex systems such as the tax and transfer system in Australia by simulating the rules of these systems on actual persons and households. By working at the individual level this technique offers insights to policy that is otherwise not feasible.

Recent examples of microsimulation modelling use in Australia include the modelling of the 2014-15 and 2015-16 Federal Budgets. Each of these budgets proposed a complex array of new or altered policies that impact on the disposable incomes and work incentives of Australians. This analysis enabled a full understanding of the winners and losers from the budget in what is called a ‘distributional analysis’. Microsimulation modelling can also incorporate behavioural impacts through altered economic behaviour or dynamic impacts through time.


  1. Simulating the tax and transfer system
  2. Simulating population change
  3. Analysing policy change using microsimulation techniques

Learning outcomes 

Upon successful completion, enrollee's will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. Explain the key concepts of microsimulation modelling
  2. Outline the strengths and weaknesses of existing models from an analysis or policy perspective
  3. Discuss some of the main assumptions underlying different techniques
  4. Design or critique a microsimulation model

Indicative assessment 

Assignment 1 – Introductions and identification of data analysis questions (500 words, 20% of final mark) LO: 1, 2

Assignment 2 – Analysis plan (1,500 words, 80% of final mark) LO: 3, 4, 5, 6

Assumed knowledge 

Completion of ANU Micro-credential Data Analysis and Interpretation (or equivalent).

This micro-credential is taught at graduate level and assumes the generic skills of a Bachelors or equivalent.

Micro-credential stack information 

This micro-credential may be undertaken as part of a stack by completing Data Analysis and Interpretation.


Course Code: DATA26

Workload: 21 hours 

  • Contact hours: 7 hours
  • Individual study and assessment: 14 hours

ANU unit value: 1 unit

AQF Level: 8

Contact: Associate Professor Benjamin Phillips

This Micro-credential is taught at a graduate level.  This is not an AQF qualification.

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