Consistency of reports on orphanhood status: insights from a linkage of individual records between successive censuses in southeastern Mali
Bruno Masquelier, Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED)
Véronique Hertrich, Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED)
Due to the lack of full-fledged civil registration systems in sub-Saharan Africa, reports on the survival of parents collected in censuses and demographic surveys continue to play an important role in the estimation of adult mortality. Data on parental loss also serve to monitor trends in orphanhood prevalence, and provide information on health outcomes, schooling attainments and living arrangements of orphans. However, in many countries, as is the case in Mali, empirical estimates of orphan prevalence differ substantially from model-based estimates. These discrepancies have been ascribed to the “adoption bias”, which refers to the fact that a sizeable fraction of fostered orphans are misclassified as non-orphans, leading to implausibly low proportions of orphans. In this paper, we use a unique linkage of individual records between successive censuses in southeastern Mali to investigate the consistency of reports on orphanhood status. In light of this analysis, we review model-based estimates of orphan prevalence and adult mortality in Western Africa.