Estimates of survival and mortality from successive cross-sectional surveys

Publication type

Book Chapter

Series Number

Ch. 8


Applied Demography and Public Health



Publication date

June 1, 2013


It is hard to estimate death rates among subpopulations that are not defined on death certificates. This paper presents a method for estimating death rates for subpopulations, in this case persons with diabetes, using successive cross-sectional surveys. The method was originally developed to estimate death rates from successive national censuses. Survival ratios use the estimated population in one period as the denominator and the estimated number of survivors at a later time as the numerator. Survival ratios estimated from independent surveys have independent numerators and denominators and their variances are a modification of the usual formulas. We illustrate the method using data from the U.S. Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (1996–1998 and 2001–2003) for persons with diabetes. We estimate annual death rates and their standard errors during the 5 year period between surveys. Useful estimates of death rates for chronic conditions or other small subpopulations can be made from sample surveys of the general population when both status and age of onset are obtained.



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