Journal Article

The intergenerational effect of Cambodia’s genocide on children’s education and health

We investigate the intergenerational effect of conflict on the educational and health outcomes of children born years after the conflict ended by examining geographic variation in the intensity of the genocide that occurred during the Khmer Rouge (KR) regime in Cambodia. We find that greater intensity of mortality during the genocide had an adverse effect on the education and health of children born to parents years after the conflict concluded. Had the genocide not occurred, the average normal grade progression rate of children would have been 8 percent higher and the average height-for-age Z-score of children would have been 18–20 percent higher. We examine several channels through which genocide could affect children born to survivors after the conflict and find suggestive evidence that the marriage market acts as a channel that transmits the adverse impact of conflict across generations. Our findings are robust to alternative measures of mortality rates and post-KR internal migration. 

Published in a peer-reviewed journal of the Population Council. Asadul Islam is Associate Professor, Department of Economics, Monash Business School, Monash University, Australia. Chandarany Ouch is Research Fellow, Cambodia Development Research Institute, Phnom Penh. Russell Smyth is Professor, Department of Economics, Monash Business School, Monash University, Australia. Liang Choon Wang is Senior Lecturer, Department of Economics, Monash Business School, Monash University, Australia.