National Centre For Social And Economic Modelling (NATSEM)

Overview

NATIONAL CENTRE FOR SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC MODELLING

NATSEM is an international leader in supporting strong policy through robust evidence. It is known as a national centre of excellence in microsimulation, economic modelling and policy evaluation.  

NATSEM undertakes independent and impartial research that contributes to policy design and analysis. Our work includes models that show how policy scenarios shape tax and welfare payments. It includes tools that map the impact of policy on diverse community groups. We also specialise in mixed method modelling and evaluation of policy programs.  

Our research interests span: 

  • public policy and administration; 
  • superannuation, tax and transfer systems; 
  • regional, rural and remote Australia; 
  • ageing, disability, health and mental health; 
  • childcare, schooling, vocational education and training; 
  • income, housing, inequality, welfare and wellbeing. 

NATSEM regularly partners in this work with commercial, government and not-for-profit clients. This research provides an evidence-based foundation for policy leadership, advocacy and public debate. You can find out more about partnering with NATSEM through this site. 

The Centre also provides educational opportunities for PhD students, in-service professionals and interns. This site includes resources for schoolteachers and communities. If you would like to work or study with NATSEM in the future, please send your details to natsem | at | canberra.edu.au. 

Models

NATSEM specialises in applying social and economic models to inform robust policy decision-making. These include well-established models, such as Stinmod+, SpatialMSM and Smart and Skilled Simulator (SASSI). The Centre also designs mixed method evidence and evaluation models according to client need.

In the past, NATSEM has constructed models across a wide range of social and economic policy areas. These include:

  • tax and social security public policy and administration;
  • superannuation, tax and transfer systems;
  • regional, rural and remote Australia;
  • ageing, disability, health and mental health;
  • childcare, schooling, vocational education and training;
  • income, housing, inequality, welfare and wellbeing.

NATSEM models draw on 'top down' conceptual and ‘bottom-up’ practical approaches. This means that we can integrate national policy insight with the individual experiences of real Australians. This base provides tremendous flexibility within our modelling.

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STINMOD+

stinmod logo

The Australian tax, transfer and social security systems are complex and constantly changing. Adding to this this complexity is the interrelated nature of different policy initiatives. The power of the STINMOD (Static Incomes Model) is that it incorporates the impact of new and related elements on tax and welfare outcomes.

NATSEM has developed and maintained STINMOD since 1994. It was an Australian pioneer in modelling and widely used by Commonwealth Government agencies. The power of this tool has proven to be its ability to replicate the implementation of policy programs in real life.

The Centre's latest model, Stinmod+, has been a significant upgrade to the original. It incorporates contemporary modelling techniques and improves the efficiency of analysis. It also better integrates the model with key national datasets and emerging behavioural models. This tool is updated regularly, such as after the 2020 COVID19 stimulus package.

NATSEM partners with a range of policy, sector and community leaders to use Stinmod+ to provide in-depth and tailored analysis.

In 2018, NATSEM released its Stinmod+ online tool. This enables policy leaders to test different national tax and welfare scenarios. It also allows families to estimate their current tax liability and welfare payments. Corporate and national peak bodies regularly access Stinmod+ online to support their work.

So, whether you're an individual wanting to understand the impact of the Federal Budget, a policy-maker wanting to undertake taxation analysis or an advocate seeking evidence - Stinmod+ online provides the perfect solution. Stinmod+ online is an important example of NATSEM’s engagement and service with Australian communities.

This Stinmod+ model allows NATSEM to continue as one of the leading independent economic modellers in Australia.

NATSEM's STINMOD+ Discovery Tour video.

If you would like to know more about drawing on the power of Stinmod+ for in-depth analysis around your organisation's needs, please contact Professor Jinjing Li.

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SpatialMSM

spatial msm logo

It is well known that many social and economic characteristics vary by location. Even before drought and bushfires, much of regional Australia experienced socio-economic disadvantage. The persistent poverty in parts of Australia has resulted in a growing emphasis on place-based policy initiatives. Due to the different impact of COVID19 on industries and jobs, economic recovery will not be even. 

That is why analysis of geo-spatial variation is essential when designing policy, targeting programs, or delivering services. NATSEM's modelling capability include highly specialised data analysis and mapping capacities.  

Our spatial microsimulation model (SpatialMSM) generates socio-economic data across all Australian communities. This model allows small area estimates of characteristics that are not normally available from Census or national administrative data.  

SpatialMSM also allows us to derive cross tabulations of different characteristics (e.g., poverty by age or poverty by housing). It has also been linked to Stinmod+ to derive small area and group estimates of tax and transfer policy changes. Importantly, it can include labour and population projections to help policy-leaders look to the future. 

NCOSS used SpatialMSM to produce Mapping Economic Disadvantage in NSW.

If you would like to know more about using SpatialMSM to understand the variation of community characteristics by location, please contact Professor Rob Tanton

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Mixed Method Social Models

mixed methods logo

NATSEM recognises that many of the 'wicked problems' faced by today's policy leaders need more than just economic answers. Increasingly, leaders demand data that span sectors, departments, disciplines and diverse groups. This requires robust approaches that combine different forms of evidence-creation. 

Economic and spatial modelling are powerful tools, but like all simulations, they come with limitations. Important information may not measurable or collected. Variables may not be available at the unit record or relevant regional level. For ethical reasons, data may not be released to prevent the identification of individuals or groups. NATSEM works closely with its research partners and clients to be clear what modelling is possible with the data available. 

The NATSEM team also has expertise in the use of mixed methods to design bespoke approaches. It also has extensive experience in using different forms of evaluation to produce deep policy insight. Our methods can be designed to integrate our economic and spatial modelling tools with these other rigorous methods of policy analysis. 

We recognise that policy design and delivery occur in complex governance systems. Governments, private entities, non-government organisations and community stakeholders also play an important part in policy outcomes. Also, in a federal system, different interfaces between and across policy networks also play a vital role. This means that policies and programs need to be assessed at different stages, in different ways and for different audiences. 

The NATSEM team has extensive experience in large-scale system-wide assessments and developing national sector maturity models. This work has included working with harder to reach groups, assessing the viability of innovative models of care and community capacity building in some of Australia’s lowest socio-economic regions.  

As a member of IGPA, our teams also draw on the insight of international experts in governance and national policy specialists. Such perspectives offer insight into the complexity, diversity and lived experience within systems, which is valuable to policy designer and advocate alike. 

If you would like to know more about NATSEM’s design of bespoke approaches for policy development, evaluation and analysis, please contact Professor Brenton Prosser

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Smart and Skilled Simulator (SASSI)

Smart and Skilled Simulator (SASSI) is a software tool that implements a microsimulation model in the field of vocational education policy analysis. The software is designed to evaluate the impact of policy changes on student enrolment and the State education budget.

Research

NATSEM is one of Australia's leading centres for research into economic, social and public policy issues.

This reputation is underpinned by success in competitive grants and quality peer-reviewed publication. NATSEM's core strength is its depth, breadth and flexibility of research expertise. Ours is a highly collaborative research culture with a vibrant community of PhD scholars.

As part of IGPA, the Centre provides vital data analytics and evidence to support work in:

  • democratic engagement;
  • change governance;
  • gender equity;
  • deliberative processes.

NATSEM is also an active member of the microsimulation community, regularly contributing to international literature and conferences.

Research Specialisations (PDF documents)

Publications

Over the past five years, NATSEM team members have published in many books and and peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters and you can access their publications here.

Projects

Since the formation of the Centre in 1993, NATSEM has been a strong performer in competitive research grants, including many Category 1 projects. Examples can be found in our Project List.

Seminars

NATSEM holds regular seminars where researchers from our community share their latest research. These presentations align with the Centre's key research themes:

  • Governance and public administration;
  • Labour force, inequality and wellbeing;
  • Rural regional and city development;
  • Health, mental health and aged care.

These presentations involve international scholars, NATSEM team members, doctoral students and adjuncts. But anyone interested is welcome to attend. A list of past and future seminars can be viewed here.

Visiting Scholars

NATSEM welcomes scholars from other academic institutions, particularly in areas of common research interest. There are a range of potential arrangement for international and national visitors, including those wishing to take up residence during sabbatical or OSP. To express interest in becoming a visiting scholar, contact the NATSEM Director, Brenton Prosser.

Apply for a PhD

Partnerships

NATSEM regularly provides its research services through commissioned or consultancy work. Our team has vast experience translating NATSEM modelling into real-world contexts. This is part of the Centre's purpose to support strong policy through robust evidence.  

In fact, NATSEM was founded to provide the Stinmod+ model to the Departments of Treasury and Finance on a consultancy basis. Since then, NATSEM has significantly broadened its offer to government, commercial, not-for-profit and community clients. This page provides information about our consultancy specialisations, past projects and team experience. 

NATSEM accepts requests to directly commission research services. It also welcomes invitations to tender through government panel.  

To find out more about how you can use the power of our research expertise to help with your policy challenges, please contact the NATSEM Director (Brenton.Prosser | at | canberra.edu.au). 

Specialisations 

NATSEM provides a range of research services across a range of consultancy specialisations. These include: 

  • Data Analytics
  • Disability and Mental Health
  • Education and Childcare
  • Health and Ageing
  • Labour Force
  • Regional, Rural and Remote Communities
  • Tax and Transfer
  • Disadvantage, Welfare and Wellbeing

Team Expertise

Past Projects 

NATSEM has provided its research consultancy services to a broad range of clients and this list is available to view online.

Events

NATSEM ANNUAL ADDRESS 

Each year since 2015, NATSEM has invited an influential thinker to deliver its annual address. In line with the purpose of the Centre, these addresses draw on rigorous thinking and robust evidence to support stronger policy. In doing so, it stimulates collective thinking about social issues affecting all Australians. 

Recent addresses include: 

  • Dennis Trewin AO FASSA (2019) 
  • Saul Eslake (2016) 
  • Professor Michael Batty (2015) 
  • Rev Tim Costello (2014) 

For further information, please visit the Annual NATSEM Address webpage

AUSBUDGET 

Each year, NATSEM uses its Stinmod+ model to show the impact of the Federal Budget on the tax and transfer system in Australia. Produced within days of the Budget speech, Ausbudget is a central event in the national public policy calendar.  Although responsive to changing priorities, this analysis provides insight into Budget implications for welfare and households across Australia. 

UPCOMING EVENTS 

NATSEM is a vibrant community of researchers that are active within national and international networks. This includes important leadership with the International Microsimulation Association (of which NATSEM is an affiliate). Please click here to learn more about IMA events.

Network EVENTS 

NATSEM has strong links with IGPA (IGPA Events), the Faculty of Business Government and Law (BGL Events) and the UC Health Research Institute (HRI Events).