Gender, Nativity and Family Variations in the Timing of Sexual Initiation

Rachel E. Goldberg, Princeton University
Alicia Adsera, Princeton University

As a pivotal event in the transition to adulthood, early initiation of sexual activity has been linked with myriad adverse outcomes, including unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection. This study builds on and extends previous research on nativity variations in health and risk behavior by addressing two questions: (1) whether and how age at immigration is associated with timing of sexual activity for first generation youth; and (2) whether and how family instability influences the association between nativity and sexual debut. Lower levels of parental partnership instability may be protective for immigrant youth; however, family disruption and reconstitution associated with migration may increase the risk of early sexual debut. Results suggest that first generation youth initiate sexual activity at later ages than higher generation youth and that foreign-born youth immigrating between ages 10 and 16 experience later sexual debut than their younger age counterparts. Gender differences exist in these relationships.

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Presented in Session 98: Influences on Intimate Behaviors