Dating and Secondary School Completion in Urban Kenya

Shelley Clark, McGill University
Rohini Mathur, McGill University

Completing secondary school is increasingly viewed as a desirable life goal for young men and women living in urban Kenya. This goal sometimes complements and at other times competes with other important adolescent transitions such as initiating sexual activity, getting married, and having children. In this paper, we draw on a ten-year retrospective Relationship History Calendar, which gathered detailed monthly information on schooling and all romantic and sexual partnerships. We find that for both men and women it is not simply being sexually active, but rather how many sexual partners they have, that negatively impacts their chances of completing secondary school. Similarly, while pregnancy for women diminishes their chances of graduating from secondary school, it does not fully account for the effects of having sexual partners. Lastly, while finding a suitable marriage partner actually increases the likelihood that men finish secondary school, it substantially reduces women’s completion rates.

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Presented in Session 83: Schooling and the Transition to Adulthood