Research Associate - Pretoria, South Africa

Closing date: 27 October 2017

UNU-WIDER is looking for an outstanding individual with strong commitment and potential to support the research programme of the Institute. Closing date: 27 October 2017, 23:59 UTC+3.

United Nations University objectives

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

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. It is a unique blend of think tank, research institute, and UN agency — providing a range of services from policy advice to governments, as well as freely available original research. For more information on UNU-WIDER and its work programme, please visit

UNU-WIDER is in the process of setting up a joint research, policy and capacity-building programme with the National Treasury (NT) of the Republic of South Africa that engages key local and regional institutions and aims to help achieve economic transformation and inclusive growth in the Southern African region.

A key area of work in this programme is to conduct policy-relevant research on public revenue mobilization on the South African tax system. The programme will make available the tax administrative data collected by the South African Revenue Service (SARS) for use as a tool in economic policy-making and integrate further the various micro-level databases available in South Africa.

UNU-WIDER is looking for an outstanding individual with strong commitment and potential to support this programme. The position is based at NT or SARS in Pretoria, South Africa.


Under the supervision of the Director of UNU-WIDER, the Research Associate will perform a key role in creating, maintaining, and updating administrative tax data from South Africa, and making it available for researchers. The Research Associate will:

  • create and manage micro-level databases
  • update databases on a regular basis to incorporate the latest relevant available data and variables
  • generate manuals describing the process of updating the databases, including basic descriptive tables and figures and analysis of data quality
  • ensure consistent use of the datasets within the programme
  • actively explore new micro-data sources
  • participate in data projects that involve the comparison of data from tax records with data from other sources
  • assist researchers in accessing the data, answer their queries, and run computer code and extract results as needed for non-South Africa-based researchers
  • communicate regularly with programme stakeholders on specific data requirements
  • ensure that secure computers used for accessing the data are up to date with computing power and statistical software
  • assist in a scoping study on remote data access and its possible implementation
  • assist in drafting research studies and management reports
  • perform other duties as requested by the supervisor.

Required qualifications and experience

  • a minimum of a master’s degree in economics, statistics, or equivalent social science, with a minimum of three (3) years of relevant work experience
  • demonstrated ability to independently carry out, create, update and manage databases
  • required knowledge of computer programme languages, especially Stata; knowledge of other computer programming languages — in particular R is an advantage
  • excellent drafting skills and fluency in both oral and written English
  • excellent team player with strong, well-developed interpersonal skills and ability to work in a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic environment with sensitivity and respect for diversity.


Monthly remuneration of ZAR50,200 subject to submission of reports to the Director on the tasks accomplished at the end of each quarter during the contract period at 15 March, 15 June, 15 September and 15 December.

The successful candidate will be employed in Pretoria, South Africa and will not hold international civil servant status nor be a ‘staff member’ as defined in the United Nations Staff Rules and Regulations. No relocation allowance applies.

UNU has its own medical insurance for employees contracted under a Personnel Service Agreement (PSA).

Duration of contract

This is full-time employment on a one (1) year Personnel Service Agreement (PSA) contract with UNU-WIDER, with the possibility for renewal subject to requirements and satisfactory work performance, with the combined duration of appointments not exceeding six (6) years.

Starting date: As soon as possible.

Application procedure

Interested applicants should submit their applications online using this form and must upload the following:

  • a cover letter setting out how their qualifications and experience match the requirements of the position
  • a completed and signed UNU Personal History (P.11) downloadable from UNU website; please avoid using similar forms provided by other United Nations organizations
  • an up-to-date CV
  • a copy of highest educational degree obtained.

The United Nations shall place no restrictions on the eligibility of men and women to participate in any capacity and under conditions of equality in its principal and subsidiary organs (Charter of the United Nations: Chapter 3, article 8).