Information for new members of the study



  Click here for a short video introducing NIDS (Afrikaans version).


   Click here for a leaflet introducing NIDS. (Afrikaans version) .


What is NIDS?
NIDS is a continuing record of the personal stories of 28,000 South Africans which began in 2008.

NIDS stands for National Income Dynamics Study. It is a research database of over seventy million pieces of information and counting. Don’t let the “income” distract you too much, though. NIDS covers all other aspects of our daily lives (including education, health etc.).

It provides an unbiased and accurate picture of the lives of South Africans to researchers and policymakers.

Not only does this record show what is changing in our lives, but it also reveals details which help researchers and policymakers find out why this change happens. This is only possible if we collect the stories of South Africans such as yourself.

Why does NIDS need you?
We need you to make sure that the data we gather creates a picture of how life is changing for all South Africans.

We are privileged in that most of the original people who wanted to be a part of the study have remained with us over the years.

But, over time, we lose some people. This is natural, as people are giving up their time voluntarily to be part of the study.

So, to keep the data relevant for all South Africans, we need more people like you to join to make sure that you are represented to policy researchers and policy makers. We looked at the 2011 Census to see where under-represented people live, and then randomly selected households to invite into the study. This is how we come to be knocking on your door in the hope that you will join us.

How will my data be used?
The data is used to answer important national questions such as:

  • Has there been a change in the value of post-secondary education between generations?
  • What is the relationship between smoking during youth and later life health outcomes?
  • Does getting electricity help children do better in school?
  • When someone leaves poverty and remains out of poverty, what made the difference?
  • Does poor health prevent people from working or does not working lead to poor health?

Some example findings include the following:

  • The period between 2008 and 2015 has been a time of uncertainty for many. Those in the comfortable end of the middle class are not immune from this, with at least 10 percent of them falling into poverty between 2008 and 2015.
  • Access to education and services such as water, electricity, and health continue to improve lives, yet many people are stuck in income poverty. 47% of people were poor every time we saw them since 2008.
  • Education results are promising. Compared to their parents, children are successfully completing more years of schooling.
  • Receipt of the Child Support Grant is strongly related to increased years of schooling attained.
  • Half of the people who reported exercising more than three times a week in 2008 reported that they never exercised in 2012.

You can find more example findings from over the years in a range of short videos on our YouTube channel.

We remove your personal details from the data so that no-one knows it is yours and then combine it with the data from all the other households.We then take this anonymous data and make it publicly and freely available through our website to provide high-quality evidence to inform policy research and policy making. The study makes no profit from your data and will never do so.

To ensure the NIDS data is used effectively, we also provide training, example findings, scholarships and summary videos.

What does being part of the study involve?
Our professional interviewers would like to make an appointment to visit you at your home at a convenient time and ask you a range of questions about your household concerning education, health, and your work life, to name a few.

This is entirely voluntary, and you may choose not to answer some questions if you don’t want to.

The interviewer will record your answers on an electronic notebook and then send the data securely to UCT.

We take the security of your information very seriously. We work in a special secure unit with restricted access.

Before we make the data available through our website, we make it anonymous so that no-one using the data can tell who provided it.

In two years’ time, we will come back and see if you are willing to make another appointment. We can then find out from you what may have changed.

Over time we will ask fewer questions, as some things do not change, such as your date of birth or your early schooling.

From time to time, we’ll send you a newsletter with some of the interesting things we have learned.


And finally … Welcome and Thank You.

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