Familial Structure, Kinship System and the Transition to Adolescent Sexual Debut in Ghana

Stephen Obeng Gyimah, Queen's University

The structural-functionalist school argues that adolescents living with both biological parents are better adjusted psychosocially compared with those living in other familial arrangements, and are therefore less likely to become sexually active. The African family, however, is more complex and complicated than the nucleated families in the West. Family structure often intertwines with unique kinship systems which confer asymmetric sexual expectations on adolescent boys and girls. While there are a few studies in sub-Saharan on how family structure affects the transition to first sex, there is a paucity of research on the interplay between family structure and kinship system and how they affect the transition to first. Using data from the 2004 Ghana National Survey of Adolescents, this paper seeks to address are the following: how do differential familial structures impact on first sex timing, and how different are they in matrilineal and patrilineal groups?

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Presented in Session 184: Family and Intergenerational Aspects of the Transition to Adulthood