Does the Number of Sex Partners Affect School Attainment?

Joseph J. Sabia, American University

We use data on young women from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health to explore the relationship between number of sex partners and educational attainment. Using the average physical development of male schoolmates to generate plausibly exogenous variation in number of sex partners, instrumental variables estimates suggest that number of sex partners is negatively related to educational attainment, a result that is consistent with the argument that romantic involvements are time consuming and can impose substantial emotional costs on adolescent and young adult females. The estimated relationship between number of sex partners and educational attainment is robust to controlling for teen fertility and age at first intercourse, and persists when age at first intercourse is treated as an endogenous variable. We conclude that reducing the number of sex partners during adolescence and young adulthood may yield modest educational benefits.

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Presented in Session 135: Interrelationships between Parents, Schools, Sexual Behavior, and Fertility