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The United Nations University, World Institute for Development Economics Research, is hiring a Research Associate (PSA) (2024)

UNU – The United Nations University is an international community of scholars engaged in policy-oriented research, capacity development, and dissemination of knowledge, furthering the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations. UNU’s mission is to contribute, through research and capacity building, to efforts to resolve the pressing global problems that are the concern of the United Nations and its Member States.

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UNU – United Nations University has been a go-to think tank for impartial research on human survival, conflict prevention, sustainable development and welfare. With more than 400 researchers in 12 countries, UNU’s work spans the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, generating policy-relevant knowledge to effect positive global change. UNU maintains more than 200 collaborations with UN agencies and leading universities and research institutions across the globe.

United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER)

UNU-WIDER is one of 14 research and training Institutes that comprise the think tanks in the UNU system.

UNU-WIDER is a leading international development economics think tank. The Institute provides economic analysis and policy advice with the aim of promoting sustainable and equitable development for all. The Institute began operations in 1985 in Helsinki, Finland, as the first research centre of the United Nations University.

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UNU-WIDER is implementing a large research, capacity development, and policy engagement programme in South Africa, called Southern Africa – Towards Inclusive Economic Development (SA-TIED) in close collaboration with the National Treasury of South Africa. Building on the successful first phase of this programme, phase II of SA-TIED will continue to bring together world class researchers with policymakers to combat socio-economic challenges in South Africa but also in the broader southern African region. A big focus of SA‐TIED relates to its engagements with the policy‐making community as a partner.

A key aspect of the programme is to generate robust empirical evidence and use it as a basis to encourage networking and discussion amongst people involved in policy processes across the participating organisations and civil society to bridge the gap between research and policy‐making. The programme played an important part in making anonymised administrative tax data available for research purposes at a Secure Data Facility at the National Treasury (NT-SDF) and is a key asset in the programme. 

The United Nations University Responsibilities 

Based at the premises of the National Treasury of South Africa in Pretoria, South Africa, the Research Associate conducts research on the tax data, writes academic articles, writes manuals on the tax data, facilitates researchers’ use of the tax data, assists with capacity development and oversees the lab operations at the NT-SDF.

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The Research Associate’s responsibilities include the following:

1. Facilitate research on the data at the National Treasury – Secure Data Facility

  • Develop and implement a tracking document that lists all ongoing research projects such that output requests can be mapped effectively to approved research projects.
  • Facilitate the set-up of an efficient system in evaluating research proposals (e.g., implement a standard template that everyone needs to fill in).
  • Lead the collaboration to produce technical notes related to data used under the programme.
  • Support in evaluating research proposals and provide feedback to researchers using the tax data.
  • Produce research briefs, policy briefs, blogs, and background notes.
  • Ensure consistent use of the datasets within the programme.
  • Assist researchers in accessing the tax data.
  • Participate in data projects that involve the comparison of data from tax records with data from other sources.

The United Nations University Qualifications

Required Qualifications and Experience:

  • Advanced university degree (PhD degree or equivalent) in Economics, Statistics, Social Sciences, or a related field. 
  • A minimum of two (2) years of relevant work experience
  • Strong quantitative skills in econometrics
  • Advanced knowledge of statistical programmes to conduct research (Stata, R, Python or equivalent)
  • Previous experience with administrative or big data is an asset
  • Knowledge of tax and development issues is an asset.
  • A good track record of working papers and publications is advantageous
  • Excellent drafting skills
  • Excellent team player with strong interpersonal skills and ability to work in a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic environment with sensitivity and respect for diversity.
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