What is EUROMOD?

What is EUROMOD?

EUROMOD is the tax-benefit microsimulation model for the European Union that enables researchers and policy analysts to calculate, in a comparable manner, the effects of taxes and benefits on household incomes and work incentives for the population of each country and for the EU as a whole. Cross-country comparability is enabled by coding the policy systems of the EU Member States according to a common framework based on a standard set of modelling conventions. The EUROMOD platform is highly flexible but also organised, documented, validated and transparent. Underpinning the model is the purpose-built software comprising a user-friendly interface, supplemented by extended functionalities (plugins and add-ons) for special purpose analysis. The software is used in many country-specific models around the world.

Originally maintained, developed and managed by the Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER) of the University of Essex, since 2021 EUROMOD is maintained, developed and managed by the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission, in collaboration with Eurostat and national teams from the EU countries. The model is open source since December 2020 (before December 2020 it was open access), with an increasing number of users across Europe and beyond. There are now several hundred active users from a range of institutional backgrounds, helping bridge the gap between academic research and policymaking.

For an overview of EUROMOD and its main features and uses, you can watch a couple of videos (here and here) recorded by ISER in 2019, before the full transfer of the model to the JRC.

Why use EUROMOD?

EUROMOD is widely used in policy-relevant research, including within academic disciplines from public economics to comparative social policy.

Key strengths of the model include:

  • The only multi-country tax-benefit model available for the EU
  • The only accessible model for many individual EU countries
  • Harmonised input data and policy simulations for all countries
  • Highly flexible policy settings
  • Intuitive user interface
  • Special-purpose tax-benefit modelling language
  • Extensive library of policies
  • Continually updated and developed
  • Adaptable to other data sources (e.g. administrative data)

EUROMOD can be linked to, or used alongside, other types of models (behavioural, macro-economic or environmental) as a tax-benefit policy calculator or to provide a distributional perspective.

EUROMOD’s flexibility means that it can be adapted to shortcut the process of building tax-benefit models with potentially comparable outputs for any country.

How does EUROMOD work?

EUROMOD is a static microsimulation model. It applies user-defined tax and benefit policy rules to harmonised microdata on individuals and households, calculates the effects of these rules on household income, and then outputs results, still at the micro level.

There are three key components to EUROMOD: the coded policy rules, the input microdata and the software. The default policy rules are those set to 30 June for a given policy year and the microdata (mainly based on EU-SILC) are processed according to a standard set of protocols. The software - comprising a user interface and a calculation engine - may then be used to adjust the default policy parameters and run new tax-benefit routines, calculating the effects of these changes on incomes in the microdata.

The software includes EUROMOD statistics, in which the effects of different policy scenarios can be analysed and compared in terms of budgetary and distributional impact, including indicators on inequality and poverty. It contains too tools: Statistics Presenter, which offers a predefined sets of results, and In-depth Analysis, which allows the user to fully customise the indicators. Other statistical software may be used to analyse the output files.

EUROMOD aims to simulate as much as possible of the tax and benefit components of household disposable income. Generally, the following instruments are simulated in all countries: income taxes (national and local), social contributions (paid by the employees, self-employed and employers), family benefits, housing benefits, social assistance and other income-related benefits.

See the paper EUROMOD: The European Union Tax-Benefit Microsimulation Model for a fuller description.

What can EUROMOD do?

EUROMOD can be used in many different ways in different contexts. Examples include

  • Estimation of the redistributive effects of actual, previous or future tax-benefit policies
  • Policy swapping analysis
  • Estimating budgetary effects of policy changes
  • Tax-benefit design
  • Estimation of work incentives and labour supply effects of policies
  • Stress tests of a tax-benefit system
  • Design of EU-wide policy reforms
  • ‘Nowcasting’ and forecasting of the income distribution under policy/population change scenarios
  • Data imputation

A number of special purpose tools and extensions have been built for EUROMOD. An overview of them can be found in the Extended functionalities section.

History of EUROMOD

EUROMOD was originally developed for the countries of the EU-15 as part of a series of European Commission funded (FP3, FP4 and FP5) research projects, starting in 1996.

In 2005-2008 a FP6 Research Infrastructure Design Study (I-CUE “Improving the Capacity and Usability of EUROMOD”) provided the basis to extend the model to incorporate the 2004 accession countries and make it easier to update, maintain and use. Since then EUROMOD’s updating and development has been supported by funding from DG-Employment’s European Union Programme for Employment and Social Security (PROGRESS) and, from 2016, via the European Union Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI). EUROMOD now covers all EU Member States.

Starting in 2004 EUROMOD was managed, maintained and developed by the Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER) at the University of Essex in collaboration with national teams in each EU member state. In 2018, a phased transition process started, in which the responsibility for the regular updating and maintenance of EUROMOD was progressively transferred to the Fiscal Policy Analysis Team of the JRC. During that period Directorate-General Joint Research Centre (DG JRC) gradually assumed the responsibility for the model maintenance and update with Directorate-General Eurostat (DG ESTAT) acting as main data provider. Directorate-General for Employment, social affairs and inclusion (DG EMPL), together with Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN), Directorate-General for Taxation and Customs Union (DG TAXUD) and Directorate-General for Structural Reform Support (DG REFORM) (hereafter partner DGs), agreed to co-finance the transfer process and its longer-term development and maintenance. The transition process finalised at the end of 2020.

Since 2021 EUROMOD is managed, maintained and developed by the Joint Research Centre (JRC) - European Commission. The model is continuously updated in collaboration with Eurostat and national teams from each EU member state, making use of microdata from the European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC).