Social Network Methods for Estimating Adult Mortality: Evidence from Rwanda

Dennis Feehan, Princeton University
Mary Mahy, UNAIDS
Matthew J. Salganik, Princeton University

Measurements of adult mortality are a vital part of understanding the health and well-being of populations everywhere. In countries that lack high-quality death registration data, including most of Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, adult death rates must be estimated using alternative strategies. This study aims to enlarge and improve our arsenal of methods for doing so. We introduce a new, survey-based technique that can be used to estimate adult death rates from respondents' reports about their social networks. We test this method using a nationally-representative survey of 5,000 Rwandans that was conducted in June- August of 2011. Although no gold-standard estimates of adult mortality are available for validation in Rwanda, we will evaluate the plausibility of our results and conclude with a discussion of what implications they have for improving the method in future applications.

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Presented in Session 60: Health and Mortality in Developing Countries