Every person, household and institution present in South Africa on Census Night, 9-10 October 1996, should have been enumerated in Census '96. The intent was to provide a count of all persons present within the territory of the Republic of South Africa at that time. More specifically, the purpose of this census was to collect, process and disseminate detailed statistics on population size, composition and distribution at a small area level. The 1996 South African population Census contains data collected on HOUSEHOLDS and INSTITUTIONS: dwellling type, home ownership, household assets, access to services and energy sources; INDIVIDUALS: age, population group, language, religion, citizenship, migration, fertility, mortality and disability; and economic characteristics of individuals, including employment activities and unemployment.
Kind of Data
Census/enumeration data [cen]
Unit of Analysis
The units of analysis for the South Africa Census 1996 were households, individuals and institutions
v01.2: Edited, anonymised dataset for licensed distribution
1. The original South African Census 1996 dataset was produced in 1998 and released as 2 data files (one pertaining to households, the other to persons and institutions). A second version was downloaded from the Statistics South Africa website on 4 July 2011. This later version differed in the following respects (to the one previously obtained by DataFirst from Statistics South Africa):
1.1. Variable and value labels were added to all variables
1.2. In the person data file the follower further changes were made by Stats SA
• Missing values for the 'age' variable were recoded as ".a"
• The 'remarks' variable was removed
• The 'moveddy2' variable was renamed 'movedy2'
• The 'disabled' variable was renamed 'disablec'
• The 'econacti' variable was renamed 'econactt'
1.3. In the household data file the following further changes were made by Stats SA
• Missing values for the 'hohage' variable were recoded as ".a"
• The 'type' variable was renamed 'urban'
• The 'fuelligt' variable was renamed 'fuelligh'
2. The current version of this dataset (referred to here as v01.2), available on DataFirst's microdata catalogue, contains a modified version of the person and household data files downloaded from the Statistics South Africa website. Furthermore, a data file with the modified person and household data files merged is provided
in this version of the dataset. The changes to the previous versions are as follows:
2.1. In the person data file
• Several spelling mistakes were corrected in the variable labels ('disabillity' was changed to 'disability' for the the variables: 'sight', 'hearing', 'physical', and 'mental'
• Generated an identifier for the household enumerated (hhid). This uniquely identifies each household in the household file, for the purpose of merging the person and household data files.
• Added value and/or variable label for the following variables:
childliv: Added value labels for all values > 95 for this variable.
moveddis: Added value label, "N/A: Never moved", to observations valued 97 for this variable. This value was previously unlabelled.
school: Added value labels for every value (please see variable specific metadata for a complete codelist); labelled the variable "Highest school class completed". Both the value and variable labels were previously missing for this variable.
worktime: Added variable label for this variable. This variable was previously unlabelled.
2.2. In the household data file
• As with the person data file, it was necessary to generate an identifier for each enumerated household which was also assigned the variable name "hhid" with the label "Unique household Identifier".
3. Unnecessary decimal places were removed from the following variables:
3.1. In the person data file
3.2. In the household data file
The South African Census 1996 dealt with the following topics: household characteristics, including dwellling type, home ownership, household assets, access to services and energy sources; individuals' characteristics, including age, population group, language, religion, citizenship, migration, fertility, mortality and disability; and economic characteristics of individuals, including employment activities and unemployment.
All variables as per the questionnaire are included in the 10% sample, as well as derived variables. EA numbers are excluded to preserve confidentiality. Local authorities with less than 2000 households have been combined with adjacent ones to form units which are spatially linked to ensure confidentiality.
• Local authorities with less than 2000 households have been combined with adjacent ones to form units which are spatially linked to ensure respondent anonymity.
• Name and initial of respondent excluded
All variables as per the questionnaire are included in the 10% sample, as well as derived variables and imputation flags. EA numbers are excluded to preserve confidentiality. Geographic type is excluded from the final sample. Instead two additional geographical variables are supplied, namely:
• Urban and rural - Census '96 classification
• Size and density of locality
DEMOGRAPHY AND POPULATION 
economic conditions and indicators [1.2]
income, property and investment/saving [1.5]
LABOUR AND EMPLOYMENT 
specific diseases and medical conditions [8.9]
religion and values [13.5]
social conditions and indicators [13.8]
The South African Census 1996 has national coverage.
The lowest level of geographic aggregation in the South African Census 1996 is defined by the local authority boundaries in the area.
Different terms are used for the local authority boundaries in different parts of the country. There are Transitional Local Councils (TLCs); Transitional Rural Councils (TRCs); Local Authority Councils (LACs); Metropolitan Sub-Structures (MSSs); Metropolitan Local Councils (MLCs); Rural Local Councils (RLCs); District Councils (DCs); Transitional District Councils (TDCs) and Regional Councils (RCs). To ensure confidentiality within the 10% sample, a local authority had to have a minimum of 2000 households.
The South African Census 1996 covered every person present in South Africa on Census Night, 9-10 October 1996 (except foreign diplomats and their families).
Producers and sponsors
Statistics South Africa
The data in the South African Census 1996 data file is a 10% unit level sample drawn from Census 1996 as follows:
• A 10% sample of all households (excluding special institutions and hostels)
• A 10% sample of all persons as enumerated in the 1996 Population Census in South Africa
The census household records were explicitly stratified according to province and district council. Within each district council the records were further implicitly stratified by local authority. Within each implicit stratum the household records were ordered according to the unique seven-digit census enumerator area number, of which the first three digits are the (old) magisterial district number.
The final calculation of the undercount of persons, based on analysis of a post-enumeration survey (PES) conducted shortly after the original census, was performed by Statistics South Africa. The estimated reponse rates are detailed below, both according to stratum and for the country as a whole. An estimated 10,7% of the people in South Africa, through the course of the census process, were not enumerated. For more information on the undercount and PES, see the publication, "Calculating the Undercount in Census '96", Statistics South Africa Report No. 03-01-18 (1996) which is included in the external documents section.
Undercount of persons by province (stratum, in %):
Western Cape 8,69
Eastern Cape 10,57
Northern Cape 15,59
Free State 8,75
North West 9,37
Northern Province 11,28
South Africa 10,69
Some households and people were missed during enumeration. A survey was conducted after the 1996 South Africa Census to estimate the level of undercount. This information was used to calculate weights, that were then applied to the Census data to adjust for undercount. For more information about the adjustments for undercount and how these weights were calculated, see the publication, "Calculating the Undercount in Census 1996", Statistics South Africa Report No. 03-01-18 (1996). Both the 10% household sample file and the 10% person sample file contain a weight variable (as 'peshhwei' and 'pespwei' respectively) reflective of these adjustments made by Statistics South Africa.
Dates of Data Collection
Data Collection Mode
Data Collection Notes
The enumeration primarily took place over the period of 10 October to 30 October 1996. In some situations, it was necessary to continue enumeration through to December 1996 to ensure that as many people as possible were included.
Statistics South Africa
Different methods of enumeration were used to accommodate different situations and a variety of questionnaires were used. The information collected with each questionnaire differed slightly.
The questionnaires used were as follows:
Questionnaire 1: (Household and personal questionnaire)
This questionnaire was used in private households and within hostels which provided family accommodation. It contained 50 questions for each person and 15 for each household. Every household living in a private dwelling should have been enumerated on a household questionnaire. This questionnaire obtained information about the household and about each person who was present in the household on census night.
Questionnaire 2: (Summary book for hostels)
This questionnaire was used to list all persons/households in the hostel and included 9 questions about the hostel. A summary book for hostels should have been completed for each hostel (that is, a compound for workers provided by mines, other employers, municipalities or local authorities). This questionnaire obtained information about the hostel and also listed all household and/or persons enumerated in the hostel. Some hostels contain people living in family groups. Where people were living as a household in a hostel, they were enumerated as such on a household questionnaire (which obtained information about the household and about each person who was present in the household on Census Night). On the final census file, they will be listed as for any other household and not as part of a hostel. Generally, hostels accommodate mostly individual workers. In these situations, persons were enumerated on separate personal questionnaires. These questionnaires obtained the same information on each person as would have been obtained on the household questionnaire. The persons will appear on the census file as part of a hostel. Some hostels were enumerated as special institutions and not on the questionnaires designed specifically for hostels.
Questionnaire 3: (Enumerator's book for special enumeration)
This questionnaire was used to obtain very basic information for individuals within institutions such as hotels, prisons, hospitals etc. as well as for homeless persons. Only 6 questions were asked of these people. The questionnaire also included 9 questions about the institution. An enumerator's book for special enumeration should have been completed for each institution such as prisons and hospitals. This questionnaire obtained information on the institution and listed all persons present. Each person was asked a brief sub-set of questions - just 7 compared to around 50 on the household and personal questionnaires. People in institutions could not be enumerated as households. Homeless persons were enumerated during a sweep on census night using a special questionnaire. The results were later transcribed to standard enumerator's books for special enumeration to facilitate coding and data entry.
University of Cape Town
University of Cape Town
This data may be used provided Statistics South Africa is acknowledged as the original source of the data.
Citation: Statistics South Africa. South African Census 1996. 1998. Version 1.0 of the dataset. Provided by DataFirst http://www.datafirst.uct.ac.za
Disclaimer and copyrights
Users may apply or process this data, provided Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) is acknowledged as the original source of the data; that it is specified that the application and/or analysis is the result of the user's independent processing of the data; and that neither the basic data nor any reprocessed version or application thereof may be sold or offered for sale in any form whatsoever without prior permission from Stats SA.
(c) 1998, Statistics South Africa
DDI Document ID
University of Cape Town
Date of Metadata Production
DDI Document version
Version 01 (July 2011)