Cognitive Skills, Social Acceptability, and Consistency of Adolescents' Self-Reports of Sexual Behavior: Evidence from a Longitudinal Study in Rural Malawi

Erica Soler-Hampejsek, Population Council
Paul C. Hewett, Population Council
Johanna Rankin, Population Council

In this paper we investigate the magnitude and causes of inconsistent reporting of sexual behavior measures between three rounds of a longitudinal study on school quality and adolescents’ experiences in Malawi. In particular we aim to shed light on the extent to which adolescents’ cognitive skills and their identified role in society are associated with inconsistent reporting by answering the following questions: (i) Are adolescents who have better literacy and math skills more likely to provide accurate responses in a complex survey that demands understanding of concepts and recalling of timing and order of past events than adolescents who are illiterate or have poor math skills? (ii) Are adolescents’ who are in a stage of life where sexual activity is not socially accepted, such as unmarried girls and in particular those enrolled in school, more likely to provide inaccurate information than out of school and married adolescents?

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Presented in Poster Session 1