Continuous Population Survey (CPS) test goes to the field

Who are the poor? Where do they live? And what are their life circumstances? This is part of the information that the expenditure year of the Continuous Population Survey (CPS) aims to collect from South African households to monitor and profile poverty and inequality levels in the country and to provide data that can be used for updating the CPI  basket of goods and services and the household expenditure component of national accounts.


In line with the organisation’s plans to digitize data collection processes and to implement a mixed-mode data collection approach (i.e. use of Computer-Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI), Computer-Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI), and Computer-Assisted Web Interviewing (CAWI)  for household surveys, this approach has also been adopted for household expenditure surveys. The main objective of the test revolves around testing the use of the adoption of the mixed-mode data collection approach in collecting detailed household income and expenditure data focusing on the following test objectives:

  1. The efficiency and workload of using two data collection teams versus using three teams
  2. The practicality, workload and publicity completion rates when publicity officers start at least a month before data collection.
  3. The efficiency of using mixed-mode data collection mainly looking at the following:
    • Duration of interview completion
    • Data quality
    • Respondent fatigue
  4. The practicality and efficiency of remote training for an expenditure survey
  5. Database design and processes (including ability to change from one data collection mode to another between modules)
  6. The use of electronic collection for expenditure diaries
  7. Other elements of the mixed-mode methodology in partnership with the Quality Assurance Mixed-Mode Committee (QAMMC)


The results obtained from the test will be used to help inform the planning and development of the expenditure year of the CPS.

The CPS is a survey designed to integrate methodologies and content from existing household surveys within the organisation in order to achieve the goal of providing data at sub-provincial levels and to bring stability to the collection of household income and expenditure data.  The CPS is designed to run on a repeating three-year cycle with the first year (also known as the Expenditure Year) focusing on data previously collected through the Income & Expenditure Survey (IES) and Living Conditions Survey (LCS). Data collection for the Expenditure Year of the CPS will cover a period of 12 months where sampled households will participate in the survey for a period of four weeks. A combination of diary and recall methods will be used to collect information on household income and expenditure during the period of the survey. A sampled household will be required to keep an expenditure diary for a period of two weeks.


The CPS test will cover 132 Primary Sampling Units (PSUs) split across two provinces, namely the Eastern Cape and Gauteng.  Within those provinces, households will be sampled from the following districts, namely Nelson Mandela Metro (EC), Buffalo City (EC), Chris Hani (EC), Amathole (EC), OR Tambo (EC), West Rand (GP), Sedibeng (GP), Ekurhuleni (GP), City of Johannesburg (GP) and City of Tshwane (GP). Publicity activities commenced on 1 September and will continue until 12 December 2021, and data collection for the test will commence from 23 September until 12 December 2021.

The CPS, like all other household surveys, have gone the route of digital data collection and will be using digital devices to navigate to sampled dwelling units. The fieldworkers; both Publicity Officers and Survey Officers, will collect information using digital questionnaires. The Publicity Officers will visit sampled respondents and collect information such as the preferred method of collection, the language preference, contact details, etc. The Survey Officers will conduct data collection using three modes of collection; a respondent will have the option of a face-to-face (CAPI) interview, a telephonic (CATI) interview or have the option of self-completing the questionnaire using a web browser (CAWI).

Download CPS Fieldwork Processes here.


By: Biziwe Maswili-Ledikwa, Gerald White, Dion Pietersen, Rodney Khumalo and Werner Ruch