Using Survey Data for Agent-Based Modeling: Design and Challenges in a Model of Armed Conflict and Population Change
Williams, Nathalie E., Michelle L. O’Brien, and Xiaozheng Yao. 2016. “Using Survey Data for Agent-Based Modeling: Design and Challenges in a Model of Armed Conflict and Population Change.” Pp. 159-184 in Agent-Based Modelling in Population Studies: Concepts, Methods, and Applications, edited by A. Grow and J. Van Bavel. Springer.
Although agent-based models (ABMs) have become more commonly found in the demographic literature in the past decade, the use of survey data to populate and operationalize ABMs is still rare in demography. This technique, more commonly found in the geographic and land use literature, creates opportunities to study entirely new questions, but is time-consuming and cumbersome to use. In this chapter, we seek to contribute to the use of survey data based ABMs for demographic purposes. We do this by presenting details of the design, structure, and functioning of an agent-based model we created to examine the influence of armed conflict on population composition and change. In addition to presenting our model design, we also discuss several challenges and solutions to using survey data in the initialization and parameterization of survey-data based ABMs. Finally, we present illustrative examples from our ABM and compare the results with regression-based analyses. It is our aim that this presentation and discussion will expedite the design and testing of ABMs for future projects.