The 1980 South African Population Census was a count of all persons present on Republic of South African territory during census night (i.e. at midnight between 6 and 7 May 1980). The purpose of the population census was to collect detailed statistics on population size, composition and distribution at small area level. The 1980 South African Population Census contains data collected on
HOUSEHOLDS: household goods and dwelling characteristics as well as employment of domestic workers;
INDIVIDUALS: population group, citizenship/nationality, marital status, fertility and infant mortality, education, employment, religion, language and disabilities, as well as mode of transport used and participation in sport and other recreational activities
Kind of Data
Census enumeration data
Unit of Analysis
Households and individuals
Version 1.3: Edited, anonymised dataset for public distribution
The original South African Census 1980 dataset was produced in 1985 and released as 9 data files. A later version was downloaded from Statistics South Africa's website on 29 April 2011. Version 1.2 was a merged dataset with the variable names translated from Afrikaans to English and value labels added. The current version (v1.2) available is the merged dataset with the following changes:
The original variable SUBURB in the SA Census 1980 dataset had the label "City/Town". From version 1.2 thia was relabelled to "Suburb" as this variable actually contains the suburb data and not city/town data.
The original variable PROVINCE in the SA Census 1980 dataset had the label "Provinces". This has been relabelled to "Province" for consistency (i.e. from plural to singular).
The value labels in the SA Census 1980 dataset for the following variables have been changed: SPORT1C, SPORT2C
The original value labels were "Competition" (values of 1) and "Not Competition" (values of 0). This has been changed to "Competitively" (values of 1) and "Not competitively" (values of 0).
Values labels were added to the following variables: WKLAWEEK, WKLOOKED, WKAGAIN, BILINGUL
Version 1.3 of the data includes value labels for the AREA variable. These were labelled based on information obtained from the HSRC, and after matching the variable against the Province variable in the 1980 census data and the AREATYPE variable in the 1991 census data. A separate data file for the 1980 Census data collected for Bophuthatswana was downloaded from Statistics South Africa's website on 29 April 2011. Version 1.2 is the latest version of this data file.
The scope of the 1980 South African population census includes:
HOUSEHOLD: household goods and dwelling characteristics (including household ownership) and employment of domestic workers
INDIVIDUAL: population group, citizenship/nationality, marital status, fertility and infant mortality, education, employment, religion, language and disabilities, as well as mode of transport used and participation in sport and other recreational activities
The 1980 census covered the so-called white areas of South Africa, i.e. the areas in the former four provinces of the Cape, the Orange Free State, Transvaal, and Natal. It also covered areas in the so-called National States of Ciskei, KwaZulu, Gazankulu, Lebowa, Qwaqwa, Kangwane, and Kwandebele. The 1980 South African census excluded the "independent states" of Bophuthatswana, Transkei, and Venda. A census data file for Bophuthatswana was released with the final South African Census 1980 dataset.
The lowest level of geographic aggregation for the 1980 South African census is Enumerator's subdistrict (ESD).
The 1980 South African census covered all household members (usual residents).
The 1980 South African Population Census was enumerated on a de facto basis, that is, according to the place where persons were located during the census. All persons who were present on Republic of South African territory during census night (i.e. at midnight between 6 and 7 May 1980) were enumerated and included in the data. Visitors from abroad who were present in the RSA on holiday or business on the night of the census, as well as foreigners (and their families) who were studying or economically active, were not enumerated and included in the figures. Likewise, members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps of foreign countries were not included. However, the South African personnel linked to the foreign missions including domestic workers were enumerated. Crews and passengers of ships were also not enumerated, unless they were normally resident in the Republic of South Africa. Residents of the RSA who were absent from the night were as far as possible enumerated on their return and included in the region where they normally resided. Personnel of the South African Government stationed abroad and their families were, however enumerated. Such persons were included in the Transvaal (Pretoria).
Producers and sponsors
Department of Statistics (now Statistics South Africa)
Government of South Africa
Dates of Data Collection
Data Collection Mode
Central Statistical Services
The 1980 Population Census questionnaire was administered to all household members and covered household goods and dwelling characteristics, and employment of domestic workers. Questions concerning individuals included those on citizenship/nationality, marital status, fertility and infant mortality, education, employment, religion, language and disabilities, as well as mode of transport used and participation in sport and other recreational activities.
The following questions appear in the questionnaire but the corresponding data has not been included in the data set:
PART C: PARTICULARS OF DWELLING:
2. How many separate families
(i) Number of families
(ii) Number of non-family persons
(iii) total number of occupants [i.e. persons in families shown against (i) plus persons shown against
3. Persons employed by household
(a) How many persons employed as domestics
(b) Total cash wages paid to above –mentioned persons for April 1980
4. Ownership – Do not answer this question if your dwelling is on a farm.
(i) Own dwelling – (Including hire-purchase, sectional title property or property of wife):
(a) Is the dwelling Fully paid Partly paid-off
(b) If partly paid-off, state monthly repayment (include housing subsidy, but exclude insurance.
(ii) Rented or occupied free dwelling :
(a) Is the dwelling occupied free, rented furnished, rented unfurnished
(b) If rented, state monthly rent
(c) Is the dwelling owned by the employer?
(d) Does it belong to the state, SA Railways, a provincial administration, a divisional council, or a municipality or other local authority?
PART D: PARTICULARS OF THE FAMILY
1. Number of members in the family
2. Occupation. (Nature of work done)
(a) Head of family
3. Annual income of head of family and wife.
Annual income of: Head, Wife (if applicable)
Department of Statistics (now Statistics South Africa). 1985. South African Census 1980 [dataset].Version 1.3. Pretoria: Department of Statistics [producer], 1985. Cape Town: DataFirst [distributor], 2020. DOI: https://doi.org/10.25828/zytt-pn96
University of Cape Town
Disclaimer and copyrights
Users may apply or process this data, provided Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) is acknowledged as the original source of the data; that it is specified that the application and /or analysis is the result of the user's independent processing of the data; and that neither the basic data nor any reprocessed version or application thereof may be sold or offered for sale in any form whatsoever without prior permission from Stats SA.