Nicola Branson is a Chief Research Officer in the Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit (SALDRU) in the School of Economics at the University of Cape Town (UCT). She holds a PhD in Economics from UCT and has experience in quantitative research and training in the use of household and longitudinal survey data. Branson was co-principal investigator on the fifth wave of the National Income Dynamics Study (NIDS), where she gained experience in the management and implementation of longitudinal datasets.
Branson currently heads the Siyaphambili Post-School Research group in SALDRU, where her research focuses on inequalities in access to post-school education and subsequent transitions into the labour market. Her four main projects within this group include the Siyaphambili interactive website, a platform to track and monitor post-school qualification attainment in South Africa; a project focused on evaluating the impact of the new NSFAS funding policy on learner and student outcomes using institutional data; a project focused on expanding the base of empirical research on the intersection between education and the labour market; and a project examining the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for inequalities in the post-school system.
Branson’s empirical work focuses on topics of data quality, the intergenerational consequences of teen childbearing, education inequalities, and the relationship between educational attainment, post-schooling choice, and labour market reward. Her work has appeared in both local and international journals, including Economic Development and Cultural Change and the Journal of Health Economics.