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.
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
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