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Northern Ireland Longitudinal Study (NILS)


The infrastructure is funded by the HSC R&D Division, Business Service Organisation (BSO) and the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA).

The Northern Ireland Longitudinal Study (NILS) has been formally available to researchers since the end of 2006. It comprises two major data linkage studies: the NILS and the Northern Ireland Mortality Study (NIMS). These were developed by NISRA and are maintained and managed by them as a resource for research. Dr Ian Shuttleworth is currently Director of the ESRC-funded NILS Research Support Unit (NILS RSU) and is also a member of the NI Census Advisory Group and the ESRC Census Advisory Committee.


The selection into the study is based on birth date (day and month): 104 dates throughout the year were selected and if an individual’s date of birth coincided with one of these they were included in the sample. The sample is large - c. 28% of the Northern Ireland population (approximately 500,000 individuals).


A large-scale data linkage study that links the 1991, 2001 and 2011 Census returns for the whole of the enumerated population (approximately 1.6 million individuals) to subsequently registered mortality data from the General Register Office (GRO). While larger than NILS it is more limited in scope, focusing only on the linkage of mortality data. It allows researchers to focus on more detailed analyses of specific cause of death, some of which may not be possible in NILS because of small numbers in sub-populations and the analysis of less common causes of death (e.g. accidental death). The NIMS dataset is recommended to researchers whose primary interest is in mortality in Northern Ireland. These data are maintained under the same conditions as the NILS and is accessible only under the same constraints (see above).

For more information on whether or not the NILS/NIMS can contribute to your research contact the NILS Research Support Unit.

Download an introduction to NILS-RSU