A major project at UCT, aimed specifically at tracking the changes over time in the lives and well being of South Africans, is the National Income Dynamics Study (NIDS). Implemented by The Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit (SALDRU) and funded by the Presidency, NIDS is the first national household panel study in South Africa. It tracks the income, consumption, expenditure and other relevant variables of around 28 000 individuals and their households over time.
“The value of the NIDS data lies in its unique ability to detail and explain the unfolding social dynamics of contemporary South Africa. Who is trapped in poverty? Who is moving into the middle and upper classes? And, most importantly for policy, what are the key drivers of these changes?” says Professor Murray Leibbrandt, DST/NRF SARChI Chair in Poverty and Inequality.
To date, three surveys, or waves, have been collected: in 2008, 2010 and 2012. The most recent wave of NIDS was launched in December 2013 in an event organised by the National Planning Commission. Many commissioners joined the statistician general, his senior staff and high-level policy officials from the Presidency and the departments of Education, Health and Social Development for a day-long engagement with a set of papers that had been prepared by a SALDRU team on relevant findings from the first three waves of NIDS data. The research has been published and is uniquely able to illuminate issues such as poverty, inequality and mobility dynamics, progress through school by learners from poor households, the health-seeking behaviour of these households, and patterns of migration, changing household composition and labour-market dynamics during the financial crisis.