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NZ Soc Sim

Modelling social change in New Zealand: social simulation applied to a census "test-bed"

Recently developed computer-based simulation techniques will be applied to Census data on cohabitation to test a model of New Zealand's social structure in the rapidly changing demographic and economic conditions of the period 1981-2001. The central research question is whether the social structure --- as reflected in the distribution of matching socio economic and ethnic choices of co-habitation partner across households --- became more highly stratified and segregated over this period. The Census provides data on these dimensions of social stratification that are both fully representative and available at five-yearly intervals. A series of simulated longitudinal investigations can be made, before 2001, by following through each Census cohort, particularly for 15-24 year olds. The simulated predictions of the model --- the effect of choices on strata --- can be tested, from 1986, against the actual distribution of household cohabitation choices for successive (older) age bands in later Censuses. Reverse effects will also be assessed (i.e. impact of strata on choices). The project will establish the Census as potential "test-bed" for future modelling research, it will trial new simulation techniques, it will address some theoretical considerations (choice or constraint in cohabitation?), and it will test a hypothesis about New Zealand's changing social structure.

Current activities

Workshops in Auckland (Department of Sociology) and Wellington (New Zealand Statistics): Presentation