This is a dynamic plot of life expectancy vs. child mortality of several countries between 1970 and 1993. Watch between 1974 and 1980, there’s one little red dot that drops from a life expectancy of about 32 (already low) to half that in 3 years and then swings back above 32 by 1981. By the end of the video, it has inched its way up to 56.
So, what happened to this country during the mid to late 70s? Something I’ve always heard about, but never knew much about, the Khmer Rouge genocide under Pol Pot: http://www.historyplace.com/worldhistory/genocide/pol-pot.htm.
“An attempt by Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot to form a Communist peasant farming society resulted in the deaths of 25 percent of the country’s population from starvation, overwork and executions.
“By 1975, the U.S. had withdrawn its troops from Vietnam. Cambodia’s government, plagued by corruption and incompetence, also lost its American military support. Taking advantage of the opportunity, Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge army, consisting of teenage peasant guerrillas, marched into Phnom Penh and on April 17 effectively seized control of Cambodia.
“Once in power, Pol Pot began a radical experiment to create an agrarian utopia inspired in part by Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution which he had witnessed first-hand during a visit to Communist China.
“Mao’s ‘Great Leap Forward’ economic program included forced evacuations of Chinese cities and the purging of ‘class enemies.’ Pol Pot would now attempt his own ‘Super Great Leap Forward’ in Cambodia, which he renamed the Democratic Republic of Kampuchea.
“He began by declaring, ‘This is Year Zero,’ and that society was about to be ‘purified.’ Capitalism, Western culture, city life, religion, and all foreign influences were to be extinguished in favor of an extreme form of peasant Communism.”