MicroZAMOD – simulating tax and benefit policies for development in Zambia

The MicroZAMOD is freely accessible for non-commercial research use. You may request access to the model here.

MicroZAMOD, the tax-benefit microsimulation model for Zambia, is a highly versatile yet easy to use tool for policymakers and researchers alike. It allows the user to analyse and compare the effects of different benefit policy scenarios on poverty, inequality, and government revenues. The model applies user-defined tax and benefit policy rules to micro-data on individuals and households and calculates the effects of these rules on household income.

With MicroZAMOD, users can simulate reforms of the Zambian tax and benefit system. They can estimate, for example, the number of beneficiaries and analyse the characteristics of the prospective recipients of a hypothetical benefit. MicroZAMOD also allows users to implement hypothetical income tax and social security reforms and calculate their effects on inequality and the government budget. Existing policies or past policy reforms can be evaluated as well.

MicroZAMOD can answer for example following questions:

  • How can the existing Social Cash Transfer benefit be amended to increase coverage?
  • How much would such a policy reform cost?
  • How tax rates could be increased to offset (either partially or wholly) the additional expenditures on social protection?

Possible policy reform simulations in MicroZAMOD include for example:

  • changing the social cash transfer scheme from a household benefit to an individual benefit
  • introducing a new universal child benefit
  • introducing a new universal pension payment to the elderly
  • introducing a new youth unemployment benefit.

MicroZAMOD has been developed in cooperation with the Zambia Institute for Policy Analysis and Research (ZIPAR), and Southern African Social Policy Research Insights (SASPRI). The latest available version of MicroZAMOD is based on the Living Conditions Monitoring Survey (LCMS) 2010 and 2015, allowing for representative results on the national and sub-national level. Policies are simulated for the years 2010 and 2015-23. The International Labour Organization (ILO) has collaborated with the MicroZAMOD initiative and supported training events since 2017.

MicroZAMOD was launched for use in 2017. The first training course, organized in collaboration with ILO, took place in 2017 in Lusaka, Zambia with participants from the Zambian government, civil society organizations and academia. Further training courses followed the first event in 2018 and 2019. In 2022, regular training was replaced by ongoing MicroZAMOD research retreats, intended to empower participants to use the model to answer specific policy questions and develop policy notes based on model simulations. In 2024, a model training was delivered in Lusaka to the Civil Society for Poverty Reduction (CSPR), bringing together staff members of CSPR and members of the Social Protection Coalition in Zambia.