The Network Survival Method for Estimating Adult Mortality: Evidence From a Survey Experiment in Rwanda
This paper provides an overview of trends in mortality in children aged under 5 and adults between the ages of 15 and 60 in sub-Saharan Africa, using data on the survival of the children and siblings collected in Demographic and Health Surveys. If conspicuous stalls in the 1990s are disregarded, child mortality levels have generally declined and converged over the last 30-40 years. In contrast, adult mortality in many East and Southern African countries has increased markedly, echoing earlier increases in the incidence of HIV. In recent years, adult mortality levels have begun to decline once again in East Africa, in some instances before the large-scale expansion of antiretroviral therapy programmes. More surprising is the lack of sustained improvements in adult survival in some countries that have not experienced severe HIV epidemics. Because trends in child and adult mortality do not always evolve in tandem, we argue that model-based estimates, inferred by matching indices of child survival onto standard mortality schedules, can be very misleading.