NBS Publishes 2019 General Household Panel Survey Report


Survey Objectives and Design

The Nigerian General Household Survey (GHS) is implemented in collaboration with the World Bank Living Standards Measurement Study (LSMS) team as part of the Integrated Surveys on Agriculture (ISA) program and was revised in 2010 to include a panel component (GHS-Panel). The objectives of the GHS-Panel include the development of an innovative model for collecting agricultural data, inter-institutional collaboration, and comprehensive analysis of welfare indicators and socioeconomic characteristics. Since 2010, the GHS-Panel has been a nationally representative survey of 5,000 households, which are also representative of the geopolitical zones (at both the urban and rural levels). After close to a decade of visiting the same households, a partial refresh of the GHS-Panel sample was implemented in Wave 4. The new household selection consists of 3,600 new households and approximately 1,500 from the original 5,000 GHS-Panel households from 2010. This report presents findings from the fourth wave of the GHS-Panel, which was implemented in 2018-2019.

Demographic Characteristics

The survey finds that average household size is 5.9 and 4.8 persons in rural and urban areas, respectively. The average national household size has dropped by 0.2 from Wave 2, when it was 5.7 to 5.5 now. Regionally, the greatest changes occurred in the South West where the average number of household members decreased by 1.0 persons. The dependency ratio in rural areas (1.1) is slightly higher than that in urban areas (0.9), where it has remained unchanged since Wave 2. Share of female-headed households is 18.6 percent, with the South East zone having the highest percentage share of female-headed households (32.4%) and North East (5.7%) the lowest.


The survey captures educational outcomes of household members through self-reported literacy, years of education, attendance, and constraints to school enrollment, such as proximity to school and school expenses. The average number of years spent by Nigerians in school is 5.5 years, with the South South zone having the highest number of years. Survey results show that the highest literacy rates for males occurs among those between 20 to 30 years of age, for females it is for those between 15 to 19 years of age. Between the ages of 5 and 14, 78.4 percent of male children, and 78.7 percent of female children, attend a type of primary or secondary school; however, as with previous waves, government school enrollment far exceeds private. Most primary school children spend between 0-15 minutes travelling to school, while most secondary school children spend between 16-30 minutes.


The questionnaire gathers information on recent illnesses, disability, health care utilization, and child anthropometrics. The data show 22.6 and 24.5 percent of men and women, respectively, reported having an illness in the four weeks preceding the survey. For women over 65 years, this number jumps to 51.8 percent. Individuals who reported being ill in the four weeks preceding the survey were most likely to seek care at a chemist (47.9% for men and 46.2% for women) or at a hospital (17.9% for men and 19.1% for women). Malaria was the most reported form of illness (41.2%) by those reporting. Hospitalization costs are the highest expenses made by individuals as it relates to health expenditures, with an average cost of N17,301. Eighty-five percent of both males and females spend between 0-30 minutes in travel time to their place of medical consultation. Child anthropometric results indicate that 42.9 percent of boys and 39.5 percent of girls are stunted (low height-for-age). Generally, stunting and underweight prevalence estimates are found to be higher in rural than in urban areas, except for wasting in females where there is a higher prevalence in urban (9.1%) than in the rural (8.1%) areas.

Housing Characteristics

The GHS-Panel also collected data on housing tenure and characteristics. Findings show that 62 percent of households own their dwelling and 21.8 percent of households rent their homes. This shows there has been a slight decrease in home ownership and a slight increase in renters between Waves 2 and 4. Although 60 percent of households have homes with three or more rooms, the quality of the building material remains poor. Nationally, more than 50 percent of households have electricity (an average of 35 hours per week), but there is a large disparity in access at the zonal level, with the northern zones showing greater access. Generators are more commonly used in South South (24.1%) and South East (20.7%) zones than other zones.

Household Assets

Households were asked if they owned various assets including home furniture, durables, entertainment equipment, and automobiles, among many others. 99.1 percent of households own a mattress/bed/mat, 65.4 percent own a regular mobile phone, and 48.6 percent own a radio. Generally, there’s been a decline in the ownership of household assets, but mobile phones saw an increase in ownership especially in the North East.


The survey collects information on households’ access to information and communication technology (ICT) and patterns of usage. Findings reveal that 77.7 percent of individuals 10 years and older have access to a cell phone, being more common in urban areas (84.8%) than in rural (74.9%). Access to the Internet (25.7%) is more prevalent in urban areas (42.1%) than in rural areas (19.0%).

Consumption, Food Security, and Shocks

The survey included questions on food and nonfood expenditure, food shortages, shocks, and coping mechanisms. Overall grains and flours, along with vegetables, oils and fats, and spices/condiments are the most consumed food items with 90 percent of households consuming food items in these groups. Fruits and dairy products are reported as the least prevalent food consumed. Grains and flour (N2,628) had the highest average expenditure during the post-planting visit, while during post-harvest visits it was the poultry, meat, fish, and animal products group (N1,903). Between Waves 2 and 4, there has been a general increase in household consumption of all food groups for post-planting and post-harvest seasons; however, poultry, meat, fish, and animal products saw a decrease in household consumption for both seasons. Soap/washing powder and recharge cards are the most common nonfood items consumed among households, with close to 9 out of 10 households reporting soap purchases and 84.6 percent reporting on recharge cards. Repairs and maintenance to dwelling accounts for the highest national mean expenditure, with an annual mean value of N35,550.

Households were also asked about their experience with food security and their history of shocks. Between Waves 2 to 4, the percentage of households reporting a food shortage has increased exponentially from 11.1 percent in 2012/13, to 19.6 percent in 2015/16, and in 2018/19, 31.6 percent. The biggest risk of food insecurity in Wave 4 was experienced in the months of July and August. Forty-four percent of households reported being unable to eat healthy and nutritious/preferred foods because of lack of money, while 41.3 percent ate only a few kinds of foods because of lack of money. The increase in the price of food items consumed was the most prevalent shock, with 18.5 percent affirming to this. Most households, 68.8 percent, when faced with some form of shock, ‘Did nothing’ to cope with the shock. Ten percent of households receive safety net assistance. Food is the most common form of safety net assistance received.

Income Generating Activities, Labor, and Time Use

According to survey results, agriculture is the most common income-generating activity, followed by working in a household nonfarm enterprise, wage employment, and finally apprenticeship. Among working individuals aged 5 to 14, agriculture is the most prevalent income-generating activity. Close to 60 percent of households operate at least one nonfarm enterprise. The most common types of nonfarm enterprises were retail trade (49.0%) and provision of personal services (14.9%). Households are most likely to acquire the start-up capital for these enterprises through household savings (77.7%), or friends and relatives (23.0%). Constraints in nonfarm enterprise operation and growth is mostly experienced in electricity (22.7%), followed by ‘unable to borrow money’ (19.7%), and then transportation (19.7%). Household members were also asked about time spent collecting fuelwood and water and, as might be expected, more time is allocated to these activities in rural areas than in urban areas. The data show that, nationally, males and females who perform these tasks spend similar amounts of time doing so, although females were more likely to collect water than males. Regionally, the difference between male and female participation is generally greater. For example, in the North Central region, 75.2 percent of females collected water seven days prior to the household visit, compared to only 42.7 percent of males.


The survey’s agriculture modules cover crop farming and livestock rearing. Results show that agricultural households hold an average of 2.85 plots at an average of 1.28 hectares in size. Nationally, only 10.8 percent of male-managed plots and 4.3 percent of female-managed plots are owned through outright purchase. Households located in urban areas are more likely to rent plots than those in rural areas. The most common means of acquiring land is through family inheritance-62.7 percent of male-managed plots and 63.4 percent of female-managed plots were acquired through this method. Inorganic fertilizer, herbicides, and organic fertilizer are applied in approximately 35.4 percent, 34.7 percent, and 23.1 percent of plots, respectively. The most commonly grown crops are cassava (46.2% of farming households), maize (49.7%), guinea corn (29.6%), and beans/cowpea (20.9%). The survey data indicates that goat (64.7%) is the most common animal owned among livestock-owning households nationally. Generally, male-headed households own more animals than female-headed households; however, female-headed households with 60.0 percent, own more goats than male-headed households at 52.7 percent. Only 20.7 percent of households participate in extension services. Cutlass (90.4%), sickle (32.5%), and wheelbarrow (23.3%) are the predominant agricultural assets used nationally.

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