Waiting to Have Sex: The Timing of First Sexual Intercourse within Young People’s Relationships

Hongwei Xu, Brown University
Nancy Luke, Brown University
Caroline Kabiru, African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC)

This study examines the timing of first sexual intercourse within adolescent partnerships, which has important consequences for health and development outcomes. Using life history calendar data from a sample of Kenyan youth, we examine the effects of relationship characteristics on the timing of first sexual intercourse within partnerships. We also distinguish between transitions to first sex with and without consistent condom use because of their implications for reproductive health. We examine not only the transition to first sexual intercourse within first relationships but repeated transitions across youth’s multiple partnerships. Preliminary analysis finds that young people decrease the delay to sexual intercourse after they have accumulated experience within previous relationships, leading to event dependence across multiple partnerships. We also find that risk factors operate in opposing directions by gender; stronger commitment to relationships accelerates the timing of first sex for young women while it delays it for young men.

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Presented in Session 39: Gender, Couple Context and Reproductive Health