2014 Colloquium

The 2014 Colloquium started with an introduction from our former director, Professor Peter Davis and an outline of the following presentation topics for the day.

“Valuing” the social sciences: an agenda for hard times

Presented by: Professor Peter Davis

Policy settings in the tertiary sector – including research funding – favour the STEM subjects (science [including medicine], technology, engineering, and mathematics). This is not unique to New Zealand. In this presentation, Professor Davis outlined various potential strategies that the social sciences can deploy in a programme of regrouping, renewal and response. In particular, he drew on the findings of a recently published book, The Impact of the Social Sciences, by Simon Bastow and colleagues. While this book is UK-focused, their work has broader application. Although the tenor of Professor Davis’ argument is influenced by his experience of working in a predominantly applied and research-intensive setting, Davis believes there are lessons and discussion points for the wider academic agenda of the social sciences.

Adjusting for linkage bias in the Historic Longitudinal Census cohort

Presented by: Dr Barry Milne

The then recent development of the Historic Longitudinal Census cohort – which linked data for individuals across the NZ Censuses from 1981–2006 – created an opportunity to answer innovative research questions. Indeed, we have received funding to use this cohort to study life-course socioeconomic influences on mortality. However, as there is incomplete linkage across censuses (i.e. some individuals are able to be linked while others are not), there is the potential for bias if associations among those linked differ from associations in the full population. In this presentation, Dr Milne described the Historic Longitudinal Census cohort and our attempts to identify and adjust for bias.  

Rebalancing care for older people: simulating policy options

Presented by: Mr Roy Lay-Yee

Demographic ageing in New Zealand greatly increased the proportion of older people, with major implications for the provision of health and social care. Policy options include promoting healthier ageing, and changing the balance of care. To test these options, we first constructed a micro-simulation model of the 65+ life course using data from two official national survey series, on health and disability respectively. We then used the model to artificially modify morbidity levels or the balance of care, and to observe the impact on the overall use of care. In the presentation, Mr Roy Lay-Yee reported on both the construction of the model and the results of simulated scenarios.

Simario: an R package for dynamic micro-simulation

Presented by: Mrs Jessica McLay

Our researchers created a policy software tool for performing ‘what if’ scenarios using dynamic micro-simulation. The user interface (front end) of the tool is created in Java and Ascape. The computations and simulations are performed in the statistical programming language R, specifically by the functions in the simario R package. We created the simario R package for creating dynamic micro-simulation models. In this presentation the simario package was introduced and key features of the simario package were demonstrated.

A knowledge laboratory of the early life-course

Presented by: Dr Barry Milne

The 'Knowledge Lab' micro-simulation project aims to integrate 'best evidence' from systematic reviews and meta-analyses into a working model of the early life course (from birth to age 21). In the presentation, Dr Milne described progress on the Knowledge Lab project, and how it will be used to: (i) test the validity of the underlying behavioural equations and specific knowledge sources (meta-analyses, systematic reviews); and (ii) test policy scenarios by carrying out experiments on the 'virtual cohort' created by the working model.