"This paper compares the direct and indirect methods used to measure adult mortality in the developing world. No other approach can substitute fully for accurate and complete vital registration, but in many countries it is unrealistic to expect the registration system to cover the majority of the population in the foreseeable future.... The difficulties involved in measuring adult mortality using surveys and other ad hoc inquiries are discussed.... While the choice of methods must depend on each country's situation, direct questions require very large samples and are unreliable in single-round inquiries. On the other hand, although indirect methods provide less detailed and up-to-date information than is ideal, they are adequate for many practical purposes. In particular, the experience of the 1980s suggests that questions about orphanhood perform better than earlier assessments indicated, and recent methodological developments have circumvented some of the limitations of the indirect approach."