The GHS is an annual household survey which measures the living circumstances of South African households. The GHS collects data on education, health, and social development, housing, access to services and facilities, food security, and agriculture.
Kind of Data
Sample survey data [ssd]
Unit of Analysis
Households and individuals
v1.1: Edited, anonymised dataset for public distribution
Version 1.0 of the General Household Survey 2015 was acquired from the Statistics South Africa on the 7th of June 2016.
Version 1.1 of the dataset included some labels that were added by DataFirst.
Version 1.2 was downloaded on the 21st of August 2018. It is identical to the previous version except that both data files have replaced the old weights with new ones. Although there is no official release detailing the reweighting procedure, it is presumed that these are recalibrations are based on the updated mid year population estimates generated by the Community Survey 2016
Please note that DataFirst provides versioning at dataset and file level. Revised files have new version numbers. Files that are not revised retain their original version numbers. Any changes to files will result in the dataset having a new version number. Thus version numbers of files within a dataset may not match.
The scope of the General Household Survey 2015 includes:
Household characteristics: Dwelling type, home ownership, access to water and sanitation, access to services, transport, household assets, land ownership, agricultural production
Individuals' characteristics: demographic characteristics, relationship to household head, marital status, language, education, employment, income, health, fertility, mortality, disability, access to social services
The General Household Survey 2015 had national coverage.
The lowest level of geographic aggregation for the data is Province. There is a variable for whether the place is a metropolitan municipality. However, no data is provided on which municipalities the data covers.
The survey covers all de jure household members (usual residents) of households in the nine provinces of South Africa, and residents in workers' hostels. The survey does not cover collective living quarters such as student hostels, old age homes, hospitals, prisons, and military barracks.
Producers and sponsors
Statistics South Africa
Government of South Africa
From 2015 the General Household Survey (GHS) uses a Master Sample (MS) frame developed in 2013 as a general-purpose sampling frame to be used for all Stats SA household-based surveys. This MS has design requirements that are reasonably compatible with the GHS.
The 2013 Master Sample is based on information collected during the 2011 Census conducted by Stats SA. In preparation for Census 2011, the country was divided into 103 576 enumeration areas (EAs). The census EAs, together with the auxiliary information for the EAs, were used as the frame units or building blocks for the formation of primary sampling units (PSUs) for the Master Sample, since they covered the entire country, and had other information that is crucial for stratification and creation of PSUs. There are 3 324 primary sampling units (PSUs) in the Master Sample, with an expected sample of approximately 33 000 dwelling units (DUs). The number of PSUs in the current Master Sample (3 324) reflect an 8,0% increase in the size of the Master Sample compared to the previous (2008) Master Sample (which had 3 080 PSUs). The larger Master Sample of PSUs was selected to improve the precision (smaller coefficients of variation, known as CVs) of the GHS estimates. The Master Sample is designed to be representative at provincial level and within provinces at metro/non-metro levels. Within the metros, the sample is further distributed by geographical type. The three geography types are Urban, Tribal and Farms. This implies, for example, that within a metropolitan area, the sample is representative of the different geography types that may exist within that metro.
The sample for the GHS is based on a stratified two-stage design with probability proportional to size (PPS) sampling of PSUs in the first stage, and sampling of dwelling units (DUs) with systematic sampling in the second stage.After allocating the sample to the provinces, the sample was further stratified by geography (primary stratification), and by population attributes using Census 2011 data (secondary stratification).
The sample weights were constructed in order to account for the following: the original selection probabilities (design weights), adjustments for PSUs that were sub-sampled or segmented, excluded population from the sampling frame, non-response, weight trimming, and benchmarking to known population estimates from the Demographic Analysis Division within Stats SA.
The sampling weights for the data collected from the sampled households were constructed so that the responses could be properly expanded to represent the entire civilian population of South Africa. The design weights, which are the inverse sampling rate (ISR) for the province, are assigned to each of the households in a province.
Mid-year population estimates produced by the Demographic Analysis Division were used for benchmarking. The final survey weights were constructed using regression estimation to calibrate to national level population estimates cross-classified by 5-year age groups, gender and race, and provincial population estimates by broad age groups. The 5-year age groups are: 0–4, 5–9, 10–14, 55–59, 60–64; and 65 and over. The provincial level age groups are 0–14, 15–34, 35–64; and 65 years and over. The calibrated weights were constructed such that all persons in a household would have the same final weight.
The Statistics Canada software StatMx was used for constructing calibration weights. The population controls at national and provincial level were used for the cells defined by cross-classification of Age by Gender by Race. Records for which the age, population group or sex had item non-response could not be weighted and were therefore excluded from the dataset. No additional imputation was done to retain these records.
Household estimates that were developed using the UN headship ratio methodology were used to weight household files. The databases of Census 1996, Census 2001, Community Survey 2007 Census 2011 were used to analyse trends and develop models to predict the number of households for each year. The weighting system was based on tables for the expected distribution of household heads for specific age categories, per population group and province.
Dates of Data Collection
Data Collection Mode
Data Quality Notes
VARIABLE ON LAND SIZE IN GHS 2009-2015
The variable on land size in the General Household Survey questionnaire for 2009-2015 should be used with caution. The data comes from questions on the households' agricultural activities in Section 8 of the GHS questionnaire: Household Livelihoods: Agricultural Activities. Question 8.8b asks:
“Approximately how big is the land that the household use for production? Estimate total area if more than one piece.”
1 = Less than 500m2 (approximately one soccer field)
2 = 500m2 to 9 999m2 (between one soccer field and one hectare)
3 = 1 but less than 2 hectares
4 = 2 but less than 5 hectares
5 = 5 but less than 10 hectares
6 = 10 but less than 20 hectares
7 = 20 or more hectares
8 = Do not know
However, a soccer field is 5000 m2, not 500, therefore response category 1 is incorrect. The correct category option should be 5000 sqm. This response option is correct for GHS 2002-2008 and was flagged and corrected by Statistics SA in the GHS 2016.
University of Cape Town
Public use files, available to all
Statistics South Africa. General Household Survey 2015 [dataset]. Version 1.1. Pretoria: Statistics South Africa [producer], 2016. Cape Town: DataFirst [distributor], 2016. DOI: https://doi.org/10.25828/5b12-w270