ESMA means "EreignisSequenzMusterAnalyse". This is a German expression which might be translated as "event sequence pattern analysis". ESMA is a computer program that analyzes data about sequences of events, e.g., the events an individual might experience over its lifetime, such as school, first job, marriage, second job, first child, and so on. ESMA builds upon (and is an extension of) previous work on event history analysis (e.g. Tuma and Hannan, 1984), and has been used in research on life histories and other dynamic processes.
The kind of data usually analyzed by ESMA are event data of a set of individuals (or other kinds of units). Each individual has a data record. The data record for each individual contains information about events experienced (and events not experienced) by each individual. ESMA reads the data records of a set of individuals from an input file, identifies the sequences of events present in the data, and computes various statistics of these sequences.
ESMA produces output of the kind reproduced on the right. For example, the second panel describes 29 women that experienced a child birth before they experienced any other events (marriage or moving together with their partner). Of these, 69% married next, while 24% started a joint household with their partner (COH). The hazard rates for these two events differ significantly, marriage occurs with a rate of 0.24, and COH occurs with a rate of 0.08, and the average waiting times (TM) differ accordingly.
ESMA also identifies patterns of event sequences. These patterns are sequences of events which occur most frequently in the analyzed data. A special pattern recognition algorithm is used to identify these sequence patterns. Finally, ESMA produces a data set of event sequences which allows users to estimate logit models of specific target events. I.e. it allows the user to model the effect of sequence patterns on the likelihood of occurrence of a specific target event.
The ESMA program is freeware. You can download and use it without charge (although you cannot sell ESMA to third parties). ESMA is distributed as a ZIP archive.
Please send your suggestions and any inquiries you might have to Martin.Schulz@sauder.ubc.ca