, Volume 41, Issue 4, pp 757-772

Adult mortality in sub-Saharan Africa: Evidence from demographic and health surveys

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This article reports levels, trends, and age patterns of adult mortality in 23 sub-Saharan Africa countries, based on the sibling histories and orphanhood data collected by the countries’ Demographic and Health Surveys. Adult mortality has risen sharply since HIV became prevalent, but the size and speed of the mortality increase varies greatly among countries. Excess mortality is concentrated among women aged 25–39 and among men aged 30–44. These data suggest that the increase in the number of men who die each year has exceeded somewhat the increase for women. It is time for a systematic attempt to reconcile the demographic and epidemiological evidence concerning AIDS in Africa.

This research was undertaken while Momodou Jasseh was affiliated with the Centre for Population Studies, LSHTM. It was supported, in part, by the U.K. Department for International Development and by the U.S. National Institute on Aging (P01 AG17625—Project 1). We are grateful to John Blacker, Debbie Bradshaw, and John Wilmoth for comments and advice about various aspects of the analysis and write-up. An earlier version of this article was presented at the scientific meeting on “The Empirical Evidence for the Demographic and Socio-Economic Impact of AIDS,” Durban, South Africa, March 26–28, 2003.