Case study

Measuring household dynamics in South Africa: constructing a household panel

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Author: Tom Harris, Martin Wittenberg, Mark Collinson, University of Cape Town, DataFirst and Louise Corti, University of Essex, UK Data Service

Date: 22 November 2017

Type of case study: Research

About the research

Household surveys are invaluable because they allow social scientists to explore the relationships between demographics, labour-market outcomes, incomes, household composition, service delivery (such as access to electricity) well-being, and other crucial details of people’s lives. However, cross-sectional household surveys offer only a snapshot of where individuals are living within a given period and of their outcomes at that specific time: they thus fail to capture how people move between households and ocations, or how their outcomes change over time. While longitudinal household panel surveys do track individuals over time, they do not track the household units themselves. Thus, despite their advantages, they do not allow insights to be drawn on longitudinal changes in household-level variables, or longitudinal changes in the structure (or existence) of the household units themselves. This case study sets out a methodology for reworking data to enable the observation of household change.

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