Project description BELMOD

BELMOD is a project funded by the European Commission. Its purpose is twofold:

  1. at the technical level, the project aims to modernise the current microsimulation model of the FPS Social Security (MIMOSIS) and
  2. In terms of content, an inventory of policy measures to reduce the non-take-up (NTU) of social rights in Belgium will be drawn up.

Modernising the microsimulation model

The existing simulation tool MIMOSIS allows policy-makers to assess whether planned social protection reforms will yield satisfactory results. For instance, MIMOSIS can be used to estimate the budgetary impact of policy proposals and to identify who will be affected (positively or negatively) and who will not, or only to a lesser extent.  

The main advantage of MIMOSIS is the accuracy of the results, which is mainly due to the level of detail in the input dataset. This input dataset contains the socio-economic data of the year 2015 of about 335,000 households, or 996,000 persons - about 9% of the Belgian population. This sample comes from the Data warehouse Labour Market & Social Protection (DWH AM&SB) of the Crossroads Bank for Social Security (KSZ). The sample is disproportionately stratified in order to generate reliable results for both the national and the regional level (including the Brussels Capital Region and the German-speaking region). In addition, the input dataset contains data from the IPCAL database of the FPS Finance (tax data) and the STIPAD/CADNET database (real estate information). This level of detail of the information on income and benefits makes relatively accurate simulations possible.

A simulation model also exists at the European level, namely EUROMOD, which is widely used by both academics and policy makers. This model was developed by the Institute for Social and Economic Research (University of Essex) and is currently managed by the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC). The model allows the impact of policy changes to be compared across all member states and the UK. It is continuously updated and developed and can be linked to other types of models (behavioural, macroeconomic or environmental). Moreover, it has a user-friendly interface and is transparent, well-organised, documented and validated.

To improve the cooperation and knowledge exchange between the main actors of static microsimulation in Belgium and Europe, MIMOSIS will be integrated in EUROMOD. The BELMOD model will thus combine the accuracy of MIMOSIS with the user-friendliness of EUROMOD.

Moreover, the FPS Social Security will develop a platform through which partners in the project can consult and use the model and the underlying data via a secure connection. The platform will not allow personal data to be saved; however, aggregated results can be saved with permission. The micro-simulation tool will thus become accessible to the wider research community.

Inventory of policy proposals to reduce non-take up

The new microsimulation tool BELMOD will be used to design an evidence-based inventory of policy proposals aimed at simplifying, harmonising and automating the granting of social rights. We understand automation in this context not only as the automatic opening of the right to social benefits (the most advanced form of automation), but also as the automatic identification of potential beneficiaries.

In the context of this automatic identification, it will be investigated whether the existing procedures, such as the proactive flux in the context of the increased allowance, can be improved or extended to other rights. Here, insights from the behavioural sciences, such as the effect of nudging, will be translated into concrete policy measures to improve both the procedures and the communication of public administrations.

In addition, the BELMOD model will also be used to analyse the impact of a harmonised and simplified means test on the size or profile of the population entitled to social benefits or allowances. A simple and harmonised means test makes it easier for the recipient to correctly assess the social benefits to which he is entitled and facilitates further automation of the allocation of social rights.

Finally, the simulation model can be further developed into a tool to continuously monitor the non-take-up of social rights. In this area, there are important synergies between the BELMOD project and the Take project.