National Income Dynamics Study – NIDS

Dates: 2008 – ongoing. First 5 “waves” implemented by SALDRU.

Funding: The Presidency (2008 – 2013); The Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (2014 – Present).

SALDRU people: Murray Leibbrandt, Ingrid Woolard, Cecil Mlatsheni and Reza C. Daniels.

Coverage: Nationally representative of the South African population.

Initial Sample size (2008): Approximately 28 000 individuals.

Data: The survey’s questionnaires, technical documents and reports for Wave 1, Wave 2, Wave 3Wave 4 and Wave 5 are available for download from DataFirst’s Open Data Portal. NIDS produces public release data, which is also available for download from DataFirst’s Open Data Portal and secure data, which can only be accessed through DataFirst’s Secure Research Data Centre.

Included sections: Household Living Standards; Household Composition and Structure; Mortality; Household Food and Non-food Spending and Consumption; Household Durable Goods, Household Net Assets; Agriculture; Demographics; Birth Histories and Children; Parents and Family Support; Labour Market Participation and Economic Activity; Income and Expenditure; Grants; Contributions Given and Received; Education; Health; Emotional Health; Household Decision-making; Wellbeing and Social Cohesion; Anthropometric Measurements; Personal Ownership and Debt.


NIDS is a national panel (longitudinal) survey which began with a sample of 28 000 South Africans. NIDS’ cycles of data collection, referred to as “waves” are undertaken approximately every 2 to 3 years and allow the study to follow the changing lives of these South Africans as well as the people they live with at the time. The first five waves of NIDS were implemented by SALDRU.

The decision to embark on this intensive multi-million Rand effort to track and interview the same people over time was taken by the South African government in 2006 as a means to empirically understand the dynamics of key socio-economic issues in South Africa.

In Wave 1 (2008), 400 Enumerator Areas, comprising of 7296 households were selected for inclusion in the NIDS sample. 300 fieldworkers spread out across all nine provinces of the country in search of the 28 226 people that formed part of these selected households; successfully interviewing 26 776 of these individuals during Wave 1.

In subsequent waves, the original sample members are tracked and re-interviewed. Anyone that they live with at the time is also interviewed. In Wave 2 (2010/11) 28 537 individuals were interviewed; in Wave 3 (2012) 32 582 were interviewed; and in Wave 4 (2014/15) 37 368 were interviewed. Data collection for Wave 5 took place in 2017 and included a sample “top-up” to increase the number of white, Indian and high income respondents who had experienced low baseline response rates in Wave 1 and higher attrition rates between Waves 1-4. During Wave 5, 39,434 individuals were successfully interviewed, of which, 2016 were from the “top-up” sample. The data for Wave 5 was released at the end of August 2018.