Every person, household and institution present in South Africa on Census Night, 9-10 October 1996, should have been enumerated in Census 1996. The purpose of the census was to provide a count of all persons present within the territory of the Republic of South Africa at that time. More specifically, the purpose of this census was to collect, process and disseminate detailed statistics on population size, composition and distribution at a small area level.
Kind of Data
Census enumeration data
Unit of Analysis
Households and individuals
v1.3: Edited, anonymised dataset for public distribution
The original South African Census 1996 10% dataset was produced in 1998 and released as two data files (one pertaining to households, the other to persons and institutions). Version 1.1 was downloaded from the Statistics South Africa website on 4 July 2011. Version 1.2 differed in the following respects:
a. Variable and value labels were added to all variables
b. Version 1.2 contains a modified version of the person and household data files downloaded from the Statistics South Africa website. The changes to the previous versions are as follows:
b.1. In the person data file
• Several spelling mistakes were corrected in the variable labels ('disabillity' was changed to 'disability' for the the variables: 'sight', 'hearing', 'physical', and 'mental'
• Generated an identifier for the household enumerated (hhid). This uniquely identifies each household in the household file, for the purpose of merging the person and household data files.
• Added value and/or variable label for the following variables:
childliv: Added value labels for all values > 95 for this variable.
moveddis: Added value label, "N/A: Never moved", to observations valued 97 for this variable. This value was previously unlabelled.
school: Added value labels for every value (please see variable specific metadata for a complete codelist); labelled the variable "Highest school class completed". Both the value and variable labels were previously missing for this variable.
worktime: Added variable label for this variable. This variable was previously unlabelled.
b.2. In the household data file
• As with the person data file, it was necessary to generate an identifier for each enumerated household which was also assigned the variable name "hhid" with the label "Unique household Identifier".
b.3. Unnecessary decimal places were removed from the some variables.
In version 1.3., DataFirst corrected the industry codes.
The South African Census 1996 dealt with the following topics: household characteristics, including dwellling type, home ownership, household assets, access to services and energy sources; individuals' characteristics, including age, population group, language, religion, citizenship, migration, fertility, mortality and disability; and economic characteristics of individuals, including employment activities and unemployment.
The South African Census 1996 has national coverage.
The lowest level of geographic aggregation in the South African Census 1996 is defined by the local authority boundaries in the area.
Different terms are used for the local authority boundaries in different parts of the country. There are Transitional Local Councils (TLCs); Transitional Rural Councils (TRCs); Local Authority Councils (LACs); Metropolitan Sub-Structures (MSSs); Metropolitan Local Councils (MLCs); Rural Local Councils (RLCs); District Councils (DCs); Transitional District Councils (TDCs) and Regional Councils (RCs). To ensure confidentiality within the 10% sample, a local authority had to have a minimum of 2000 households.
The South African census 1996 covered every person present in South Africa on Census Night, 9-10 October 1996 (except foreign diplomats and their families).
Producers and sponsors
Statistics South Africa
Government of South Africa
The data in the South African Census 1996 data file is a 10% unit level sample drawn from Census 1996 as follows:
• A 10% sample of all households (excluding special institutions and hostels)
• A 10% sample of all persons as enumerated in the 1996 Population Census in South Africa
The census household records were explicitly stratified according to province and district council. Within each district council the records were further implicitly stratified by local authority. Within each implicit stratum the household records were ordered according to the unique seven-digit census enumerator area number, of which the first three digits are the (old) magisterial district number.
The final calculation of the undercount of persons, based on analysis of a post-enumeration survey (PES) conducted shortly after the original census, was performed by Statistics South Africa. The estimated reponse rates are detailed below, both according to stratum and for the country as a whole. An estimated 10,7% of the people in South Africa, through the course of the census process, were not enumerated. For more information on the undercount and PES, see the publication, "Calculating the Undercount in Census '96", Statistics South Africa Report No. 03-01-18 (1996) which is included in the external documents section.
Undercount of persons by province (stratum, in %):
Western Cape 8,69
Eastern Cape 10,57
Northern Cape 15,59
Free State 8,75
North West 9,37
Northern Province 11,28
South Africa 10,69
This 10% sample dataset includes weights to weight up the data to the entire population.These weights have also take into account adjustments to the census undercount which was estimated through a post-enumeration survey. For more information about the adjustments for undercount and how these weights were calculated, see the publication, "Calculating the Undercount in Census 1996", Statistics South Africa Report No. 03-01-18 (1996). Both the 10% household sample file and the 10% person sample file contain a weight variable (as 'peshhwei' and 'pespwei' respectively) reflective of these adjustments made by Statistics South Africa.
Dates of Data Collection
Data Collection Mode
Data Collection Notes
The enumeration primarily took place over the period of 10 October to 30 October 1996. In some situations, it was necessary to continue enumeration through to December 1996 to ensure that as many people as possible were included.
Statistics South Africa
Different methods of enumeration were used to accommodate different situations and a variety of questionnaires were used. The information collected with each questionnaire differed slightly.
The questionnaires used were as follows:
Questionnaire 1: (Household and personal questionnaire)
This questionnaire was used in private households and within hostels which provided family accommodation. It contained 50 questions for each person and 15 for each household. Every household living in a private dwelling should have been enumerated on a household questionnaire. This questionnaire obtained information about the household and about each person who was present in the household on census night.
Questionnaire 2: (Summary book for hostels)
This questionnaire was used to list all persons/households in the hostel and included 9 questions about the hostel. A summary book for hostels should have been completed for each hostel (that is, a compound for workers provided by mines, other employers, municipalities or local authorities). This questionnaire obtained information about the hostel and also listed all household and/or persons enumerated in the hostel. Some hostels contain people living in family groups. Where people were living as a household in a hostel, they were enumerated as such on a household questionnaire (which obtained information about the household and about each person who was present in the household on Census Night). On the final census file, they will be listed as for any other household and not as part of a hostel. Generally, hostels accommodate mostly individual workers. In these situations, persons were enumerated on separate personal questionnaires. These questionnaires obtained the same information on each person as would have been obtained on the household questionnaire. The persons will appear on the census file as part of a hostel. Some hostels were enumerated as special institutions and not on the questionnaires designed specifically for hostels.
Questionnaire 3: (Enumerator's book for special enumeration)
This questionnaire was used to obtain very basic information for individuals within institutions such as hotels, prisons, hospitals etc. as well as for homeless persons. Only 6 questions were asked of these people. The questionnaire also included 9 questions about the institution. An enumerator's book for special enumeration should have been completed for each institution such as prisons and hospitals. This questionnaire obtained information on the institution and listed all persons present. Each person was asked a brief sub-set of questions - just 7 compared to around 50 on the household and personal questionnaires. People in institutions could not be enumerated as households. Homeless persons were enumerated during a sweep on census night using a special questionnaire. The results were later transcribed to standard enumerator's books for special enumeration to facilitate coding and data entry.
Statistics South Africa. South African Census 1996 [dataset]. Version 1.3. Pretoria: Statistics South Africa [producer], 1998. Cape Town: DataFirst [distributor], 2020. DOI: https://doi.org/10.25828/7yrd-n169