Studies in Applied Geography and Spatial Analysis
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Studies in Applied Geography and Spatial Analysis

Addressing Real World Issues

Edited by Robert Stimson and Kingsley E. Haynes

This timely and fascinating book illustrates how applied geography can contribute in a multitude of ways to assist policy processes, evaluate public programs, enhance business decisions, and contribute to formulating solutions for community-level problems.
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Chapter 5: SMILE: an applied spatial micro-simulation model for Ireland

Karyn Morrissey, Cathal O’Donoghue, Graham Clarke, Dimitris Ballas and Stephen Hynes


Much modelling in the social sciences takes an aggregate or meso-level approach. However, often policy-level analyses call for individual-or household-level analysis at the small area or regional level. SMILE (Simulation Model of the Irish Local Economy) is a static spatial microsimulation model. The dataset created by SMILE contains a variety of demographic, socio-economic, labour force and income variables for both individuals and family units. Furthermore, unlike other micro-simulation models SMILE also contains a detailed farm and health component. It has been used to examine a variety of policy applications, ranging from agricultural, environmental, recreation, poverty, health and socio-economic analysis, at both the small area level and the micro level in Ireland. The chapter provides an overview of the SMILE model and introduces a number of applications which SMILE has been used to examine. It concludes with an overview of future model development and applications. Despite rapid urbanization and major economic growth, Ireland remains a comparatively rural country with between 42 and 57 per cent of the Irish population living in rural areas, depending upon the definition (Meredith, 2007). This confers particular advantages in terms of quality of life, heritage, tourism and differentiated economic activities (O’Donoghue, 2012). However, the challenges faced by rural areas are substantial, ranging from infrastructure and employment to distinctive needs of local enterprises. Traditionally European Union (EU) and Irish policy on rural development was seen as being synonymous with agricultural development. However, the publication of ‘The future of rural society’ (CEC, 1988) and the Cork Declaration (European Conference on Rural Development, 1996) marked a more focused policy approach to rural development suggesting that sustainable rural development must be achieved to combat rural out-migration, poverty, unemployment and social exclusion.

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