A Microsimulation Model for Lifecourse Economic Evaluation

Core research team:  Ieva Skarda, Miqdad Asaria, Richard Cookson (PI)

Work in progress project materials:

LifeSim Executive Summary  (May 2019)

LifeSim Talk  (Apr 2019)

LifeSim Working Paper  (May 2019)

LifeSim Appendix   (May 2019)


We present a new framework for lifecourse economic evaluation, which provides detailed information about long-term costs, benefits and inequality impacts over the lifecourse. Our microsimulation framework uses life-stage-specific equations to synthesise a large body of scientific theory and evidence about the complex causal pathway linking early life circumstances to later life outcomes. We use longitudinal survey data from the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) up to age 14, and our subsequent equations are parameterised using causal effect estimates from quasi-experimental studies combined with target data from surveys and administrative records, with outcomes to age 46 validated using the 1970 British Cohort Study. We illustrate the framework by evaluating a training programme for parents of young children at risk of conduct disorder. We trace how multiple disadvantages cluster and compound over time to generate heterogeneity in long-run benefits and costs, allowing us both to pinpoint which subgroups benefit most and to simulate distributions of inequality of opportunity for lifetime health, consumption and wellbeing within the general population.

Keywords: Child development, Microsimulation, Economic evaluation, Health, Wellbeing

Funding source

This is independent research by the University of York funded by the Wellcome Trust (Grant No. 205427/Z/16/Z) and the UK Prevention Research Partnership as part of the ActEarly Consortium. Early development work on this project from 2017 to 2018 was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (SRF-2013-06-015).

The views expressed in these project materials are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Wellcome Trust, the UK Prevention Research Partnership, the NHS, the National Institute for Health Research or the Department of Health.


We would like to thank the members of our advisory group: Annalisa Belloni, Sarah Cattan, Leon Feinstein, Paul Frijters, Peter Goldblatt, Heather Joshi, Catherine Law, Lara McClure, Mark Petticrew and Christine Power.

For useful conversations and comments we also are grateful to Shehzad Ali, Karen Bloor, Laura Bojke, Eva Maria Bonin, Jonathan Bradshaw, Tracey Bywater, Simon Capewell, Maria Guzman Castillo, Bette Chambers, Brendan Collins, Gabriella Conti, Tim Doran, Susan Griffin, Nils Gutacker, Andrew Jones, Noemi Kreif, Christodoulos Kypridemos, Richard Mattock, Cheti Nicoletti, Martin O’Flaherty, Kate Pickett, Gerry Richardson, Jemimah Ride, Matthew Robson, Tracey Sach, Tushar Srivastava, David Taylor-Robinson, Valentina Tonei, Aki Tsuchiya, Simon Walker and Margaret Whitehead.

The errors and opinions expressed in these project materials are our own.