Langeberg Survey

Sample size: ~294 households

Coverage: Black, White and Coloured residents of the Langeberg health district of the Western Cape, South Africa

Data: The survey’s documentation and data are available from DataFirst


This is an integrated household survey that was undertaken in the second half of 1999. The Langeberg area comprises three magisterial districts – Mossel Bay, Heidelberg, and Riversdal – which, at the time of the 1996 census, had a population of just under 97 000 people, 78 percent of whom were living in urban areas. The remaining 22 percent lived in ‘non-urban’ areas, mainly commercial farms. With regards to racial composition, 59 percent of the population was Coloured, 26 percent White and 14 percent Black. This is in contrast to the country as a whole which is less urbanized, and has a majority Black population. Information was collected from a stratified sample consisting of 294 households (103 Black; 126 Coloured; and 65 White), with four questionnaires: older adults (55 years and above), younger adults (18 – 54 years), adult health and child health.

The survey instrument used was one that had been developed over a four year period and was the joint product of researchers at the University of Cape Town (Monica Ferreira, HSRC/UCT Centre for Gerontology, Karen Charlton, Nutrition and Dietetics Unit; and Jaqui Goldin, SALDRU); University of the Western Cape (Pieter le Roux, Economics); University of the Witwatersrand (Merton Dagut, and Martin Wittenberg, Faculty of Commerce); Rhodes University (Valerie Moller); the Medical Research Council (Krisela Steyn and Debbie Bradshaw); Princeton University (Anne Case and Angus Deaton, Economics and Woodrow Wilson School); Harvard University (Robert Jensen, Kennedy School of Government, and David Bloom, School of Public Health); MIT (Courtney Coile, Economics); the Health Systems Trust (Dr John Gear) and the Western Cape Provincial Dept. of Health (Drs. Najma Shaikh, Mike Hendricks, Ingrid le Roux) together with other persons in the medical community of South Africa. This team of gerontologists, economists, public health experts and physicians grappled with the survey design, both structure and content, through many rounds of piloting, until there was consensus that the questionnaire worked well in the field.

A special feature of this survey was the attempt to design a questionnaire which academics believed would yield the information necessary for analysis and which those working directly with health policy at different levels of government believed would be useful for their needs. To this end the support of the Western Cape Provincial Department of Health both in participating in the debate about the questionnaire and in facilitating the actual field-work from the clinics in Groot Brak, Heidelberg, Mossel Bay and Riversdal was particularly important as was the help of the Regional Department of Health and of municipal officials in the region. It is hereby acknowledged with much appreciation. The Langeberg area was itself chosen for the survey as a result of discussions between SALDRU, the Health Systems Trust and the Western Cape Provincial Department of Health as part of an interactive process between government and universities, attempting to improve information needed by health policy makers.

Funding for the Langeberg Survey was provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, through a grant to the University of Cape Town, and the MacArthur Foundation through a grant to Princeton University. Funding for earlier pilot surveys was provided by the National Institute of Aging, through a grant to David Bloom and the National Bureau of Economic Research, and by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, through a grant to Princeton University, and through the HSRC/UCT Centre for Gerontology, at UCT.

The survey was carried out under the auspices of SALDRU, under the direction of Francis Wilson advised by a committee of colleagues drawn from 7 departments representing 4 different faculties in the university. The survey manager was Jaqui Goldin who organized the fieldwork over several months and supervised the interviewing which was done largely by community workers but also, during the first two weeks of the survey, by students of the Department of Social Development (formerly Social Work) at UCT all of whom were specially trained in using the particular questionnaire by Anne Case, Angus Deaton, Rob Jensen and Ingrid le Roux. Sampling and listing was done by Matthew Welch and Faldie Esau with generous advice from Jim Lepkowski of the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan.

Consistent with our belief that ready access to data is fundamental both for ensuring the ongoing vitality of democracy within countries but also to facilitate impartial scientific collaboration around the world this data set is hereby released into the public domain with the request that one copy of any original paper that may be written using this data be sent to SALDRU.