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National Bureau of Statistics new report paints mixed picture of Living Standards in Nigeria


WED, JULY 08 2020-theG&BJournal– The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) today published data from a survey of Nigeria Living Standard (NLSS), ”the first large scale household survey in a decade, focusing on measuring living conditions of the population.”

The survey conducted in collaboration with the World Bank, covered a diverse set of socio-economic and demographic data pertaining to the basic needs and conditions under which households live on a day to day basis in Nigeria, and include literacy rates, health issues, employment and remittances, non-farm enterprises, housing and living conditions as well as consumption patterns.

The household data for the survey which was collected between 2018 and 2019 shows that the average household size in Nigeria is 5.06 persons per family with the size higher in rural areas at 5.42 individuals versus 4.50 in urban areas. The highest household size is recorded in Jigawa state with 8.15 persons on average per household and the lowest is in Ekiti state where on average the household is composed of 3.50 family members.

The share of males and females in total population is roughly equal to 49.2 percent and 50.8 percent respectively. This pattern according to the NBS, is similar across rural and urban areas and across the states, except for Enugu state, where ratio of males over females is only 0.82.

The total dependency ratio in Nigeria on average is 0.97. The highest dependency ratio is in Jigawa state at 1.40 and the lowest is in Lagos with 0.63 of dependents per 1 working age person.

On average 18.8 percent of households in Nigeria is headed by female household member. That share is generally higher in urban areas at 21.4 versus 17.1 percent in rural areas. The lowest share of female headed households is in Niger state with only 1.9 percent and highest is in Ebonyi with 36.0 percent.

The share of females, among those older than 12 years of age, in monogamous marriage is 41.9 percent versus 36.7 percent for males. The share of males and females in polygamous marriage is roughly equal at around 9.9-9.6 percent respectively.

The polygamous marriage is more widespread in Jigawa state where 15.1 percent of males and 32.8 percent of females report being in polygamous marriage. The lowest rate of polygamous marriages is in Akwa-Ibom, with less than a percent of males and females entering polygamous marriages.


On education, net attendance rate among children of primary school age in Nigeria is 65.8 percent. The highest rate of net attendance is in FCT Abuja, while the lowest in Yobe state. NBS notes that net attendance declines with level of schooling the attendance at the Junior-Secondary school is 38.2 percent and at the Senior-Secondary level is 33.8 percent.

About 14.3 percent of population above 5 years of age have never attended school. That number is higher in rural areas – 18.9 percent as compared to urban areas- 6.3 percent.

The higher the age the higher the number of people with no schooling and among age group of 65 and above, 26.7 percent of men and 62.4 percent of women never went to school. The lowest rate is among the youth of 15-24 y.o., where 6.1 percent of males and 16.9 percent of females have not attended school.

Self-reported literacy rates in reading and writing in English is generally higher among males, 58.5 percent versus 49.0 percent for females. The English literacy is highest in Lagos and lowest in Jigawa state.


34.9 percent of men and 37.4 percent of women, according to the survey are suffering from self-reported health issues.

In rural areas the incidence of health problems is slightly higher, 36.8 versus 31.3 percent for men and 39.7 vs 33.3 percent for women in rural versus urban areas respectively. Across age groups, the self-reported incidence is U shaped: at around 40 percent for infants (0-4 y.o.); then lowest among the age category of 10-14 y.o – 29.2 for boys and 27.1 for girls and increasing again for elderly, aged 65 years and older- 58 percent for men and 66.6 percent for women.

Malaria is a dominant reason for health problems in Nigeria. More than half- 51.7 percent of who reported health issues mention Malaria as top health concern. In Zamfara 65.4 percent of those who reported sickness suffer from Malaria, while in Bauchi only 30.8 percent reported that issue.

Employment and Remittances

More than 52 percent of total population in Nigeria is of working age, i.e. between 15 and 64 years of age. That share is highest in Lagos- 62.2 percent and lowest in Jigawa-44.1 percent.

Dominant share of wage employed workers are employed by private sector-65.1 and 58.8 percent of men and women respectively report being employed by private entities. About 9.2 percent of men and 8.3 percent of wage-employed individuals said that their employer is the Federal Government. That share is the highest in FCT Abuja, where 35.9 and 31.8 percent of males and females respectively have federal government jobs.

Large share of households – 54.0 percent report receiving remittances: 52.7 percent receive remittance from someone in Nigeria and 5.7 percent from abroad. The state of Kebbi has the largest share of household-remittance-recipients – 81.4 percent and state of Sokoto has the lowest number, only 5.6 percent receive any remittance. The average value of domestic remittance is 62,492 Naira and of international remittance is 84,741 Naira. More than 80 percent of households who receive remittance report using the transfers for consumption purposes.

Housing and Living Conditions

More than 42 percent of households in Nigeria reside in compound houses, 21.4 percent live in separate houses and 16.3 percent in apartments. Survey indicates that both in rural and urban areas the major share of households resides in compound housing, 35.3 and 47.5 percent in urban and rural areas respectively.

More than 54 percent of households own the dwelling in which they reside, while 25.8 percent rent the housing. The share of renters is 49.2 percent in urban areas, whereas in rural areas only 10.4 percent rent the dwelling. The largest share of households who rent is in Lagos – 68.3 percent and lowest is in Zamfara and Jigawa- 1.4 percent.

Most households – 71.4 percent who own the dwelling do not have any documents/certificate of occupancy; 13.2 percent have title deed and only 8.1 percent have certificate. The highest prevalence of ownership certificate is in Lagos – 22.9 percent.

About 60.7 percent of households reside in a housing with cement or concrete walls, that share is higher in urban areas, 86.4 percent and 43.8 percent in rural areas. However, 31.5 of households live in houses made of mud walls. In Zamfara state more than 81 percent dwell in houses with mud walls.

More than 63 percent of households have access to electricity from any source. Access varies by geographic location: in Taraba state only 19.2 percent of household report having electricity, while in Lagos 98.7 of household have electricity. Among those who indicated having electricity 82.2 percent reported national grid as a main source and about 16 percent have generator powered electricity.

However, those who connected to national grid, report having electricity only for 6.8 hours per day; those who use generator use it for 4.1 hours per day. In addition, those who have grid electricity say that they have experienced 10 blackouts in the past 7 days with average duration of 12 hours.

Almost a third – 32.1 percent of households use borehole/tube well as the primary source of drinking water (in the rainy season). Access to piped and public standpipe water is 3.3 and 4.2 percent respectively. More than 17 percent of households collect rainwater and 5.8 percent use water from the surface of the water body (e.g. river, stream etc.).

Consumption frequency of food categories and household shocks

On average the households in Nigeria consume oils and fats 6 days per week; vegetables consumed for 5.7 days; grains and flours are consumed for 5.3 days; but meat and fish are consumed only during 2.6 days per week. Households in Delta state have meat and fish for 4.9 days, while in Kano that category is consumed on average during 0.6 days per week.

When faced with shocks and negative events, 46.5 percent say they do not have specific coping strategy; but 11.7 percent of exposed households report reducing food consumption in order to manage the impact of shocks; 9.2 percent were able to receive assistance from family and friends and 6.6 percent mobilized and engaged in additional income generating activity.

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