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Vietnamese Casualties During the American War: A New Estimate

Charles Hirschman, Samuel Preston and Vu Manh Loi
Population and Development Review
Vol. 21, No. 4 (Dec., 1995), pp. 783-812
Published by: Population Council
DOI: 10.2307/2137774
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2137774
Page Count: 30
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Vietnamese Casualties During the American War: A New Estimate
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Abstract

Retrospective reports of the birth and death dates of 5,562 kin from the 1991 Vietnam Life History Survey (VLHS), a sample survey of 403 households and 921 adults in four areas of Vietnam, provide plausible estimates of adult mortality trends and patterns in that country. The VLHS mortality estimates are consistent with estimates from independent sources for recent periods, and, when war deaths are excluded, are in broad agreement with expected patterns from model life tables. After analyzing the quality of the VLHS mortality data, the authors estimate the costs, in Vietnamese lives, of the "American war," from 1965 to 1975. Death rates of young men, age 15-29, during the peak war years were more than seven times higher than "normal" (nonwar) death rates. Applying the VLHS estimated age-specific death rates for war-related deaths to population estimates for the period, the authors estimate that approximately one million (plus or minus 175,000) Vietnamese died either as military or civilian casualties, on both sides, from 1965 to 1975.

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