Estimating Adult Mortality in Cameroon from Census Data on Household Deaths: 1976-1987

  • Martin W Bangha University of Pennsylvania, USA
Keywords: Adult mortality, Completeness of deaths, Indirect techniques, HIV/AIDS pandemic


Many African countries lack conventional data sources for systematic assessment of adult mortality. Studies of mortality in Cameroon have mainly been concerned with infant and child survival, while levels and structure of adult mortality have rarely been investigated. This paper employs the Generalized Growth Balance method to estimate adult mortality in Cameroon using data from 1976 and 1987 censuses. More specifically, we use data on household deaths during the 12 months preceding the 1976 and 1987 censuses to assess the adult mortality situation in Cameroon prior to the onset of HIV/AIDS pandemic. Results suggest that overall adult mortality in Cameroon prior to the HIV/AIDS era was high even by African standards. Ignoring potential methodological and data differences, a comparison of age-specific death rates from the two censuses to those from the recent DHS results portray a recent increase in mortality during the peak productive and reproductive years. However, a complete and reliably operational vital registration system remains the ultimate solution to estimating and fully understanding the trends in adult mortality. In the meantime, consistently collecting census data on household deaths can enhance knowledge and inform policy intervention.