The GHS is an annual household survey specifically designed to measure the living circumstances of South African households. The GHS collects data on education, employment, health, housing and household access to services. GHS is designed to measure the level of development and performance of various government programmes and projects.
Kind of Data
Sample survey data
Unit of Analysis
Households and individuals
v1.4 Edited, anonymised dataset for public distribution
Version 1 of GHS 2003 used the old weights which are no longer available for donwload from StatsSA.
Version 1.2 included new weights for comparability across GHS 2002-2008 released at the same time as the GHS 2008. Person files were reweighted to reflect Community Survey 2007 results and update the estimates of the impact of HIV/Aids on demographic trends in South Africa. Household files were weighted independently of the person files in v1.2. The reweighting procedure was discussed in the report: "Reweighting of the GHS 2002-2008 data series".
As part of the revision process, some observations were removed. Demographic variables may be renamed and some values in the demographic variables may be imputed.
The following mismatches were found between v1 and v1.2: q450fiel & q450orch from house file; q32pst12; q331insa & q333inou from tourism file.
The employment status variables using old definition “status3” and “status4” were removed from v1 in the worker file.
Version 1.3 includes the new weights for comparability across GHS 2002-2011 released at the same time as the GHS 2012 (22 August 2013). Reweighting was necessary in order to maintain the comparability of population estimates used in the GHS based on figures provided by the 2013 mid-year population estimation model that incorporates the demographic findings of Census 2011. Household files were weighted independently of person files.
“geotype” and “metro” variables were added to house and person files
“head_age” variable were added to house file
“head_sex” & “head_popgrp” variables were added to tourism file
Version 1.4 includes new weights for comparability across GHS 2002-2017 released at the same time as GHS 2017 (21 June 2018). It was decided to change the benchmark for weighting from 2013 Mid-year Population Estimates serires in the previous version to the more recent 2017 MYPEs series. Household files were weighted independently of person files.
The scope of the General Household Survey includes:
Household characteristics: Dwelling type, home ownership, access to water and sanitation facilities, 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, disability, access to social services, mortality.
Women's characteristics: fertility
The survey is representative at national level and at provincial level.
The lowest level of geographic aggregations is province.
The survey covered 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 students' hostels, old age homes, hospitals, prisons and military barracks.
Producers and sponsors
Statistics South Africa
Government of South Africa
The sample is multi-stage stratified using probability proportional to size principles. The first stage is stratification by province, then by type of area within each province. Primary sampling units (PSUs) are then selected proportionally within each stratum (urban or non-urban) in all provinces.
Dates of Data Collection
Data Collection Mode
Statistics South Africa
Government of South Africa
GHS uses questionnaires as data collection instruments
Earlier versions of the GHS datasets 2002 to 2007 include a District Council variable. This is no longer available in the later versions issued by Statistics SA. They caution that although the GHS 2005-2007 sample was designed to report at DC level, estimations are not reliable at this level. The 2008 - 2013 sample was designed to report at provincial and metro level. However, StatsSA did not take the absent population at metro into account when weighting the data and therefore this data is not reliable at Metro level.
The new programs that were introduced for weighting of the general household surveys from 2008 onwards, discard all records with missing values for age, sex or population group (for observations at household level, they are the values for age, sex or population group of the household head). This means that missing values of those variables were imputed. The emphasis was on obtaining reliable imputations rather than a 100% imputation rate, so some persons/households were discarded during the weighting.
Statistics South Africa. General Household Survey 2003 [dataset]. Version 1.4. Pretoria. Statistics South Africa [producer]. 2017. Cape Town. DataFirst [distributor], 2020. DOI: https://doi.org/10.25828/yba4-j087