Errors in reported ages and dates in surveys of adult mortality: A record linkage study in Niakhar (Senegal)

Bruno Masquelier, Mufaro Kanyangarara, Gilles Pison, Almamy Malick Kanté, Cheikh Tidiane Ndiaye, Laetitia Douillot, Géraldine Duthé, Cheikh Sokhna, Valérie Delaunay, Stéphane Helleringer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sibling survival histories are a major source of adult mortality estimates in countries with incomplete death registration. We evaluate age and date reporting errors in sibling histories collected during a validation study in the Niakhar Health and Demographic Surveillance System (Senegal). Participants were randomly assigned to either the Demographic and Health Survey questionnaire or a questionnaire incorporating an event history calendar, recall cues, and increased probing strategies. We linked 60–62 per cent of survey reports of siblings to the reference database using manual and probabilistic approaches. Both questionnaires showed high sensitivity (>96 per cent) and specificity (>97 per cent) in recording siblings’ vital status. Respondents underestimated the age of living siblings, and age at and time since death of deceased siblings. These reporting errors introduced downward biases in mortality estimates. The revised questionnaire improved reporting of age of living siblings but not of age at or timing of deaths.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)269-287
Number of pages19
JournalPopulation Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2021


  • Demographic and Health Surveys
  • adult mortality
  • age misstatement
  • mortality estimation
  • record linkage
  • siblings
  • sub-Saharan Africa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • History


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