The Role of Agent-Based Modelling in Demographic Explanation

  • Edmund Chattoe
Part of the Contributions to Economics book series (CE)


This chapter outlines five difficulties with modelling demographic behavior using Agent-Based Modelling (ABM), with particular reference to the role of social interactions in the diffusion of new contraceptive practices. The first difficulty is the potentially thin character of information and activities relevant to contraception within the wider framework of social action. The second difficulty is ensuring the correct relationship between ABM and existing theories, either based on aggregate statistical patterns or strong homogeneity assumptions about individuals. The third difficulty is ensuring an adequate representation of the contextual nature of social action, both in time and space. The fourth difficulty is to represent the complexity of decision processes adequately, so they can take account of the transmission of different kinds of information: norms, costs and benefits, practices and so on. The final difficulty is the possibility of collecting relevant data for building and testing ABMs. The chapter also draws attention to the connections between these difficulties and suggests solutions where these exist. In some cases, like the modelling of thin processes and cognitive complexity, considering social behavior from an ABM perspective reveals important challenges for social science research that are obscured by other approaches to modelling.


Agent Model Static Conception Contraceptive Practice Innovation Diffusion Cognitive Complexity 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edmund Chattoe
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of Oxford 3Oxford, OxonUK

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