Computational Model Library

Schelling famously proposed an extremely simple but highly illustrative social mechanism to understand how strong ethnic segregation could arise in a world where individuals do not necessarily want it. Schelling’s simple computational model is the starting point for our extensions in which we build upon Wilensky’s original NetLogo implementation of this model. Our two NetLogo models can be best studied while reading our chapter “Agent-based Computational Models” (Flache and de Matos Fernandes, 2021 [forthcoming]). In the chapter, we propose 10 best practices to elucidate how agent-based models are a unique method for providing and analyzing formally precise, and empirically plausible mechanistic explanations of puzzling social phenomena, such as segregation, in the social world. Our chapter addresses in particular analytical sociologists who are new to ABMs.

In the first model (SegregationExtended), we build on Wilensky’s implementation of Schelling’s model which is available in NetLogo library (Wilensky, 1997). We considerably extend this model, allowing in particular to include larger neighborhoods and a population with four groups roughly resembling the ethnic composition of a contemporary large U.S. city. Further features added concern the possibility to include random noise, and the addition of a number of new outcome measures tuned to highlight macro-level implications of the segregation dynamics for different groups in the agent society.

In SegregationDiscreteChoice, we further modify the model incorporating in particular three new features: 1) heterogeneous preferences roughly based on empirical research categorizing agents into low, medium, and highly tolerant within each of the ethnic subgroups of the population, 2) we drop global thresholds (%-similar-wanted) and introduce instead a continuous individual-level single-peaked preference function for agents’ ideal neighborhood composition, and 3) we use a discrete choice model according to which agents probabilistically decide whether to move to a vacant spot or stay in the current spot by comparing the attractiveness of both locations based on the individual preference functions.

In this paper we introduce an agent-based model of elections and government formation where voters do not have perfect knowledge about the parties’ ideological position. Although voters are boundedly rational, they are forward-looking in that they try to assess the likely impact of the different parties over the resulting government. Thus, their decision rules combine sincere and strategic voting: they form preferences about the different parties but deem some of them as inadmissible and try to block them from office. We find that the most stable and durable coalition governments emerge at intermediate levels of informational ambiguity. When voters have very poor information about the parties, their votes are scattered too widely, preventing the emergence of robust majorities. But also, voters with highly precise perceptions about the parties will cluster around tiny electoral niches with a similar aggregate effect.

The ABM looks at how the performance of Water Service Delivery is affected by the relation between management practices and integrity in terms of transparency, accountability and participation

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