The NILS is a 28% sample of the Northern Ireland population that links census data from 1981, 1991, 2001 and 2011 to administrative data on births, deaths, marriages and address changes. It is a unique data resource that permits the analysis of trends in wellbeing and health over a long duration with large sample numbers that would otherwise be impossible. Its allied data resource, the Northern Ireland Mortality Study (NIMS), allows the analysis of 100% of deaths between each census. There is also a facility to link data from the health and social care system, for instance on drug prescriptions. The NILS data system has supported over 100 projects since it was founded in 2006, and its users include experienced researchers but also postgraduates and undergraduates. Between 2012 and 2017, 346 final outputs were produced. This number includes journal articles, presentations, and abstracts. The NILs-RSU has also helped to develop research capacity, promote the data to new users, and develop the impact of the users' research. It is part of the UK-wide family of census longitudinal studies (with similar data resources in Scotland and England & Wales) that allow cross-country analysis and deeper insights into UK society. Besides funding from the ESRC, it is also supported financially and in kind by NISRA and the Public Health Agency. The value of the NILS in the data infrastructure for health and social research is demonstrated by these partnerships.
Get in Touch