Structure and Rupture: A Social Analysis of Fertility Change in Cambodia After the Khmer Rouge

Open Access
Huffard, Andrew Clayton
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • David R Johnson, Thesis Supervisor
  • Stacy Silver, Honors Advisor
  • Cambodia
  • fertility
  • social change
  • demographic transition
From 1975 to 1979, the country of Cambodia was under the rule of the Khmer Rouge, who sought to fundamentally reorganize traditional Khmer society. Following this, after a long recovery period, the country began to engage with the global economy, provoking further social change. This paper aims to merge existing social research done at both the micro- and macro-level in Cambodia from the 1970’s to today with a quantitative analysis of fertility rates, drawing connections between the drastic social changes in Cambodia and the dynamic trends in fertility over that time. Traditional hierarchical structures based upon power, gender and age have long provided an integral structure in traditional Cambodian society. The analysis of fertility during the late 20th century provides some evidence that, despite tremendous social upheaval in the 1970’s, these social structures reappeared in Cambodian society, though their presence has been challenged in recent years by global influence. This study also adds to existing research by examining recent survey data regarding fertility from the 2010 Cambodia Demographic Health Survey (DHS), which suggest that contemporary Cambodian society is undergoing fundamental social shifts at a rate that outpaces many previous estimates.