Dennis M. Feehan
Matthew J. Salganik
Published online: 24 July 2017
Abstract Adult death rates are a critical indicator of population health and well-being.
Wealthy countries have high-quality vital registration systems, but poor countries lack
this infrastructure and must rely on estimates that are often problematic. In this article,
we introduce the network survival method, a new approach for estimating adult death
rates. We derive the precise conditions under which it produces consistent and unbiased
estimates. Further, we develop an analytical framework for sensitivity analysis. To
assess the performance of the network survival method in a realistic setting, we
conducted a nationally representative survey experiment in Rwanda (n = 4,669).
Network survival estimates were similar to estimates from other methods, even though
the network survival estimates were made with substantially smaller samples and are
based entirely on data from Rwanda, with no need for model life tables or pooling of
data from other countries. Our analytic results demonstrate that the network survival
method has attractive properties, and our empirical results show that this method can be
used in countries where reliable estimates of adult death rates are sorely needed.
Keywords Adult mortality
Demographic and Health
Demography (2017) 54:1503–1528
Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s13524-017-0594-y)
contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
* Dennis M. Feehan
Department of Demography, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, USA
Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Geneva, Switzerland
Department of Sociology and Office of Population Research, Princeton University, Princeton,
The Network Survival Method for Estimating Adult
Mortality: Evidence From a Survey
Experiment in Rwanda
The Author(s) 2017. This article is an open access publication