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Demographic compensation, the increase in average individual performance following a perturbation that reduces population size, and, its opposite, demographic overadditivity (or superadditivity) are central processes in both population ecology and wildlife management. A continuum of population responses to changes in cause-specific mortality exists, of which additivity and complete compensation constitute particular points. The position of a population on that continuum influences its ability to sustain exploitation and predation.Here I describe a method for quantifying where a population is on the continuum. Based on variance–covariance formulae, I describe a simple metric for the rate of compensation–additivity.I synthesize the results from 10 wildlife capture–recapture monitoring programmes from the literature and online databases, reviewing current statistical methods and the treatment of common sources of bias.These results are used to test hypotheses regarding the effects of life-history strategy, population density, average cause-specific mortality and age class on the rate of compensation–additivity. This comparative analysis highlights that long-lived species compensate less than short-lived species and that populations below their carrying capacity compensate less than those above.