Abstract

The study of mortality crises provides an unusual and valuable perspective on the relationship between mortality and fertility changes, a relationship that has puzzled demographers for decades. In this article, we combine nationally representative survey and demographic-surveillance system data to study fertility trends around the time of the Khmer Rouge (KR) regime, under which 25% of the Cambodian population died. We present the first quantitative evidence to date that attests to a one-third decline of fertility during this regime, followed by a substantial “baby boom” after the fall of the KR. Further analyses reveal that the fertility rebound was produced not only by a two-year marriage bubble but also by a surge in marital fertility that remained for nearly a decade above its precrisis level. Our results illustrate the potential influence of mortality on fertility, which may be more difficult to identify for more gradual mortality declines. To the extent that until recently, Cambodian fertility appears to fit natural fertility patterns, our findings also reinforce recent qualifications about the meaning of this core paradigm of demographic analysis

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