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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, 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 the data-augmented network scale-up method, 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 will take place 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 compare them to other estimates that are available. We will conclude with a discussion of what implications our results have for improving the method in future applications.

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Presented in Session 101: New or under-used methods