The Afrobarometer is a comparative series of public attitude surveys that assess African citizen's attitudes to democracy and governance, markets, and civil society, among other topics. The surveys have been undertaken at periodic intervals since 1999. The Afrobarometer's coverage has increased over time. Round 1 (1999-2000) initially surveyed 7 African countries with an identical questionnaire. The 7 country dataset is a subset of the Round 1 survey dataset, and consists of a combined dataset for the for the following countries:
Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Round 1 was later extended to include 12 countries (1999-2001). Round 2 (2002-2004) surveyed citizens in 16 countries. Round 3 (2005-2006) 18 countries, and Round 4 (2008) 20 countries. The survey covered 34 countries in Round 5 (2011-2013) and 36 countries in Round 6 (2014-2015). Round 6 (2014-2015) covers 34 countries and Round 7 (2016-2018) coveres 36 countries.
Kind of Data
Sample survey data
Unit of Analysis
Households and individuals
v1: Edited, anonymised dataset for public distribution
Each Afrobarometer survey collects data about individual attitudes and behavior, including innovative indicators especially relevant to developing societies. This includes the following topics:
• Democracy - Popular understanding of, support for, and satisfaction with democracy, as well as any desire to return to, or experiment with, authoritarian alternatives.
• Governance - The demand for, and satisfaction with, effective, accountable and clean government; judgments of overall governance perfomance and social service delivery.
• Livelihoods - How do African families survive? What variety of formal and informal means do they use to gain access to food, shelter, water, health, employment and money?
• Macro-economics and markets - Citizen understandings of market principles and market reforms and their assessments of economic conditions and government performance at economic management.
• Social capital - Whom do people trust? To what extent do they rely on informal networks and associations? What are their evaluations of the trustworthiness of various institutions?
• Conflict and crime - How safe do people feel? What has been their experience with crime and violence?
• Participation - The extent to which ordinary people join in development efforts, comply with the laws of the land, vote in elections, contact elected representatives, and engage in protest. The quality of electoral representation.
• National identity - How do people see themselves in relation to ethnic and class identities? Does a shared sense of national identity exist?
The survey covers the following 7 African countries: Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The lowest level of geographic aggregation covered by the data is suburb.
The sample universe for Afrobarometer surveys includes all citizens of voting age within the country. In other words, we exclude anyone who is not a citizen and anyone who has not attained this age (usually 18 years) on the day of the survey. Also excluded are areas determined to be either inaccessible or not relevant to the study, such as those experiencing armed conflict or natural disasters, as well as national parks and game reserves. As a matter of practice, we have also excluded people living in institutionalized settings, such as students in dormitories and persons in prisons or nursing homes.
Producers and sponsors
Institute for Democracy in South Africa (IDASA)
Michigan State University (MSU)
Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana)
African Development Bank
Michigan State University
US National Science Foundation
The Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation
Afrobarometer uses national probability samples designed to meet the following criteria. Samples are designed to generate a sample that is a representative cross-section of all citizens of voting age in a given country. The goal is to give every adult citizen an equal and known chance of being selected for an interview. They achieve this by:
• using random selection methods at every stage of sampling;
• sampling at all stages with probability proportionate to population size wherever possible to ensure that larger (i.e., more populated) geographic units have a proportionally greater probability of being chosen into the sample.
The sampling universe normally includes all citizens age 18 and older. As a standard practice, we exclude people living in institutionalised settings, such as students in dormitories, patients in hospitals, and persons in prisons or nursing homes. Occasionally, we must also exclude people living in areas determined to be inaccessible due to conflict or insecurity. Any such exclusion is noted in the technical information report (TIR) that accompanies each data set.
Sample size and design:
Samples usually include either 1,200 or 2,400 cases. A randomly selected sample of n=1200 cases allows inferences to national adult populations with a margin of sampling error of no more than +/-2.8% with a confidence level of 95 percent. With a sample size of n=2400, the margin of error decreases to +/-2.0% at 95 percent confidence level.
The sample design is a clustered, stratified, multi-stage, area probability sample. Specifically, we first stratify the sample according to the main sub-national unit of government (state, province, region, etc.) and by urban or rural location.
Area stratification reduces the likelihood that distinctive ethnic or language groups are left out of the sample. Afrobarometer occasionally purposely oversamples certain populations that are politically significant within a country to ensure that the size of the sub-sample is large enough to be analysed. Any oversamples is noted in the TIR.
Samples are drawn in either four or five stages:
Stage 1: In rural areas only, the first stage is to draw secondary sampling units (SSUs). SSUs are not used in urban areas, and in some countries they are not used in rural areas. See the TIR that accompanies each data set for specific details on the sample in any given country.
Stage 2: We randomly select primary sampling units (PSU).
Stage 3: We then randomly select sampling start points.
Stage 4: Interviewers then randomly select households.
Stage 5: Within the household, the interviewer randomly selects an individual respondent. Each interviewers alternates in each household between interviewing a man and interviewing a woman to ensure gender balance in the sample.
To keep the costs and logistics of fieldwork within manageable limits, eight interviews are clustered within each selected PSU.
Further information on sampling protocols, including full details of the methodologies used for each stage of sample selection, can be found in Section 5 of the Afrobarometer Round 5 Survey Manual
For some national surveys, data are weighted to correct for over or under-sampling or for household size. "Withinwt" should be turned on for all national-level descriptive statistics in countries that contain this weighting variable. It is included as the last variable in the data set, with details described in the codebook. For merged data sets, "Combinwt" should be turned on for cross-national comparisons of descriptive statistics. Note: this weighting variable standardizes each national sample as if it were equal in size.
Note that for some surveys data is weighted to correct for either deliberate (e.g., to provide an adequate sample of specific sub-groups for analytical purposes) or inadvertent over- or under-sampling of particular sample strata. In these cases, a weighting variable is included as the last variable in the data set, with details described in the codebook. These weighting factors should be used when calculating all national-level statistics.
Dates of Data Collection
Data Collection Mode
Ethics Approval for Data Collection
Teams of four interviewers traveled together to the field under the leadership of a field supervisor. It was the supervisor's job to ensure quality control of survey returns on a daily basis.
Interviewers, usually holding a first degree in social science, were trained in a five-day training workshop immediately prior to fieldwork. Interviews usually took about one hour and only proceeded after respondents have given informed consent. Strict confidentiality was required in handling survey returns.
Data Collection Notes
Interviews are conducted in the following languages:
In contrast to the full 12 country Round 1 Afrobarometer survey conducted in 1999-2001, the 7 country Round 1 (1999-2000) has more indicators and uses a standardized questionnaire with the same question wording and response categories for all of the countries.
The user of the data acknowledges that the original collector of the data, the authorized distributor of the data, and the relevant funding agency bear no responsibility for use of the data or for interpretations or inferences based upon such uses.