The legacy of the Khmer Rouge period and its aftermath: the case of Cambodia's elderly

Zachary Zimmer, Population Council
John Knodel, University of Michigan
Sovan Kiry Kim, Royal Phnom Penh University
Sina Puch, Royal Phnom Penh University

Cambodia experienced civil strife, political violence and massacres during the rule of the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s. Many who died were adult children or spouses of today’s older-aged population. The post Khmer Rouge period was characterized by severe social dislocation and continuing conflict resulting in further losses of children and spouses. These have eroded the base of core family support in a country where formal channels of assistance are virtually absent. We examine the extent to which current Cambodian elderly lost children and spouses during the Khmer Rouge period and its aftermath, distinguishing the role of violence from other causes, and relate the experience of loss to current well-being and support. Our data come from a 2004 representative survey of persons aged 60+ in an area covering over half of Cambodia's population and including Phnom Penh. The survey was specifically designed to address these issues among others.

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Presented in Session 118: The demography of conflict and violence