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.
Kind of Data
Sample survey data [ssd]
Unit of Analysis
Households and individuals
v1.4 Edited, anonymised dataset for public distribution
Version 1 of GHS uses old weights that are no longer available for download on Statistics South Africa's website.
Version 1.2 includes new weights for comparability across GHS 2002-2008 released at the same time as GHS 2008 (in 2009). 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".
GHS 2005 v1 files include a district council variable "dc". This is no longer available in the later versions with new weights. Stats SA cautioned that although the GHS 2005-2007 sample was designed to report at district level, the data is not reliable at this level.
v1.2 uses the new provincial boundaries for the province variable, as revised by the SA government in 2005. Mismatch in province variable between v1 and v1.2 is to be expected.
As part of the reweighting, if individuals or household heads have missing values for age, sex or population group, these missing values were imputed. Where imputation could not be managed, these records were discarded. These demographic variables were also renamed.
"q453alum" of household file in v1 has quality issue. This was fixed in v1.2.
There is mismatch in “q12cpsnn” (personnr of the partner of the individual) in the person file between v1 and v1.2.
Version 1.3 includes 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.
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 replace the 2013 series mid-year population estimation in the previous version with a the more recent 2017 series mid-year population estimation as benchmarks for weighting the GHS data files. 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
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
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 2005 [dataset]. Version 1.4. Pretoria. Statistics South Africa [producer]. 2017. Cape Town. DataFirst [distributor], 2020. DOI: https://doi.org/10.25828/0agk-ne11