The National Income Dynamics Study (NIDS) is a face-to-face longitudinal survey of individuals living in South Africa as well as their households. The survey was designed to give effect to the dimensions of the well-being of South Africans, to be tracked over time. At the broadest level, these were: Wealth creation in terms of income and expenditure dynamics and asset endowments; Demographic dynamics as these relate to household composition and migration; Social heritage, including education and employment dynamics, the impact of life events (including positive and negative shocks), social capital and intergenerational developments;
Access to cash transfers and social services.
Dates: 2008 – ongoing. First 5 “waves” implemented by SALDRU.
Funding: The Presidency (2008 – 2013); The Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (2014 – Present).
SALDRU people: Murray Leibbrandt, Ingrid Woolard, Cecil Mlatsheni and Reza C. Daniels.
Coverage: Nationally representative of the South African population.
Initial Sample size (2008): Approximately 28 000 individuals.
Data: The survey’s questionnaires, technical documents and reports for Wave 1, Wave 2, Wave 3, Wave 4 and Wave 5 are available for download from DataFirst’s Open Data Portal. NIDS produces public release data, which is also available for download from DataFirst’s Open Data Portal and secure data, which can only be accessed through DataFirst’s Secure Research Data Centre.
Included sections: Household Living Standards; Household Composition and Structure; Mortality; Household Food and Non-food Spending and Consumption; Household Durable Goods, Household Net Assets; Agriculture; Demographics; Birth Histories and Children; Parents and Family Support; Labour Market Participation and Economic Activity; Income and Expenditure; Grants; Contributions Given and Received; Education; Health; Emotional Health; Household Decision-making; Wellbeing and Social Cohesion; Anthropometric Measurements; Personal Ownership and Debt.
Kind of Data
Sample survey data [ssd]
Unit of Analysis
Households and individuals
v1.0.0: Edited, anonymised dataset for public distribution.
Version 1.0.0 of the National Income Dynamics Study Wave 5 2017 public release dataset was produced on the 13th of August 2018.
Data on the following topics was collected during the panel survey:
HOUSEHOLD: Household characteristics, household roster, mortality history, living standards, expenditure, consumption, negative events, positive events, agriculture
ADULTS: Demographics, education, labour market participation, income, health, well-being, numeracy, anthropometric data
CHILDREN: Education, health, family support, grants, anthropometric data, numeracy
The NIDS data is nationally representative. The survey began in 2008 with a nationally representative sample of over 28,000 individuals in 7,300 households across the country. The survey is repeated every two years with these same household members, who are called Continuing Sample Members (CSMs). The survey is designed to follow people who are CSMs, wherever they may be in SA at the time of interview. The NIDS data is therefore, by design, not representative provincially or at a lower level of geography (e.g. District Council).
The lowest level of geographic aggregation in the NIDS public release data is District Municipality. However, the data is not representative at any level but the national level. Data that includes household-level geo-coding is available for use in DataFirst's Secure Centre at the University of Cape Town.
The target population for NIDS was private households in all nine provinces of South Africa, and residents in workers' hostels, convents and monasteries. The frame excludes other collective living quarters, such as student hostels, old age homes, hospitals, prisons and military barracks.
Producers and sponsors
Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit
University of Cape Town
Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation
Government of South Africa
Commissioners of Wave 4
Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation
Presidency, Government of South Africa
NIDS is a national panel (longitudinal) survey which began with a sample of 28 000 South Africans. NIDS' cycles of data collection, referred to as "waves" were undertaken. In Wave 1 (2008), 400 Enumerator Areas, comprising of 7296 households were selected for inclusion in the NIDS sample. 300 fieldworkers spread out across all nine provinces of the country in search of the 28 226 people that formed part of these selected households; successfully interviewing 26 776 of these individuals during Wave 1.
In subsequent waves, the original sample members are tracked and re-interviewed. Anyone that they live with at the time is also interviewed. In Wave 2 (2010-2011) 28 537 individuals were interviewed; in Wave 3 (2012) 32 582 were interviewed; and in Wave 4 (2014-2015) 37 368 were interviewed. Data collection for Wave 5 took place in 2017 and included a sample "top-up" to increase the number of white, Indian and high income respondents who had experienced low baseline response rates in Wave 1 and higher attrition rates between Waves 1-4. During Wave 5, 39,434 individuals were successfully interviewed, of which, 2016 were from the "top-up" sample. The data for Wave 5 was released at the end of August 2018.
More information on NIDS sampling refer to NIDS Technical Paper Number 1
Dates of Data Collection
Data Collection Mode
Ethics Approval for data collection for NIDS Waves 1 to 5 was granted by the University of Cape Town's Commerce Faculty Ethics in Research Committee on 12 December 2007. Additional approval for Wave 5 was granted by UCT's Faculty of Health Sciences Human Research Ethics Committee on 19 December 2016.
In the interviews for all waves of the survey paper consent forms are issued in all languages and the informed consent process is conducted in the respondent's language of choice. For each questionnaire, two sets of consent forms are signed. One signed copy remains with respondent and the other is returned to the NIDS office. These forms carry unique bar-coded numbers that are entered into the CAPI system. Similarly, the household and person level IDs are displayed on the CAPI system and written onto the consent forms so that cross-referencing is possible. Data coming in from the field are accepted as valid only if NIDS has a signed consent form for each interview that produced the data. If signed consent forms are not located, the associated interviews are deleted from the dataset.
A youth care consent form is signed for young adults (15-17 years old) by the young adult's caregiver. In Wave 5, in addition to this, assent forms were signed by the young adults themselves.
Anthropometric assent forms were also required for children 7 to 10 years old. These assent forms were completed based on the child indicating their willingness to be measured as part of the anthropometric module. During Wave 5 proxy respondents were also contacted directly to get their verbal consent for the interview to be conducted on their behalf, in addition to the person responding for them signing consent.
Registering to use the NIDS data includes agreement that the data user will not attempt to identify specific individuals from the data.
Public use files, available to all
Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit. National Income Dynamics Study 2017, Wave 5 [dataset]. Version 1.0.0 Pretoria: Department of Planning, Monitoring, and Evaluation [funding agency]. Cape Town: Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit [implementer], 2018. Cape Town: DataFirst [distributor], 2018. DOI: https://doi.org/10.25828/fw3h-v708